In May of 2012, members of the U.S. Senate introduced three
bills aimed at facilitating the permanent residence ("green
card") process for science, technology, engineering, or
mathematics (STEM) graduates once they are employed in a relevant
field. These bills are in line with the Administration's
commitment to promote policies aimed at retaining highly-skilled
foreign science and technology graduates educated at U.S.
A brief summary of each of these bills follows.
TheSecuring the Talent America
Requires for the 21st Century Act(STAR
Act) would provide certain immigration benefits for
foreign nationals with STEM advanced (master's and doctorate)
degrees, including streamlining the permanent residence process and
reducing employment-based immigrant visa backlogs. Some of the key
proposals introduced by the bill include: allocating 55,000
employment-based immigrant visas to eligible STEM advanced degree
graduates of qualifying U.S. research institutions who have job
offers in related fields; offsetting the additional visa numbers by
eliminating the "Diversity Visa" lottery program; and
allowing dual immigrant intent for qualifying STEM graduate
students to enable them to pursue permanent residence status while
in student status without jeopardizing their nonimmigrant
The Sustaining our Most Advanced Researchers and
Technology Jobs Act (SMART Act) would permit students
pursuing a master's or doctorate degree in a STEM field to
enter the United States on a new nonimmigrant (F-4) visa. Once
these students graduate from their program, they will have one year
during which they may continue to reside legally in the United
States while seeking a job in a STEM field. After securing
full-time employment in a STEM field, these graduates will be able
to adjust their status to that of Legal Permanent Resident.
TheStartup Act 2.0
would create a new STEM visa to allow foreign students who graduate
with a master's or doctorate degree in a STEM program from a
U.S. institution to receive green cards. It also would create an
Entrepreneur's Visa for immigrants so that they can remain in
the United States, launch businesses, and create jobs, and would
eliminate the per-country caps for employment-based immigrant
These bills are still in the early stages of the legislative
process and it remains to be seen whether they will be signed into
law. Ogletree Deakins is continuing to monitor developments with
respect to this legislation.
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