U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander today called for reform of America’s “archaic immigration laws, which are keeping out of the United States the very people who can help raise our incomes.”
Noting that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) announcement that it received enough H-1B petitions to meet the congressionally mandated cap for fiscal year 2008 in only one day, Alexander said, "Insourcing brainpower is one of the best ways to keep our high standard of living, but instead of encouraging it, we’ve capped it. Instead of trying to keep smart people out, we should staple a green card to the diploma of every foreign student who earns a graduate degree in math, engineering, science, or technology from a U.S. university, and keep all that brainpower here to help us compete in the global economy.”
Alexander co-authored last year’s Protecting America's Competitive Edge Act, which included a provision to provide a green card to foreign graduates of U.S. universities achieving a graduate degree in math, engineering, science, or technology. The provision, which was recommended by in the National Academies' study "Rising Above the Gathering Storm," was also included in the immigration reform legislation which passed the Senate last year.
The provision would provide a 1-year automatic visa extension to international students who receive doctorates or master’s degrees in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), or other fields of national need at qualified U.S. institutions to remain in the United States to seek employment. If these students are offered jobs by U.S.-based employers within one year and pass a security screening test, they would be provided automatic work permits and expedited residence status. If not, their visas would expire.