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Visas Could Aid Graduates

By Wall Street Journal

October 24, 2011



U.S. lawmakers are working toward bipartisan legislation that would offer expedited visas to foreign graduates with advanced technical degrees, amid complaints from companies that the United States is training highly skilled workers only to have them go to other nations.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) plans to introduce a proposal supplying up to 10,000 visas annually to foreign students graduating from U.S. universities with doctorates in engineering, information technology, and the natural sciences.

The White House said in May that the country should be "stapling a green card" to the diplomas of all science, technology, engineering, and math Ph.D. grads, and to select masters' grads, so that they can "contribute to the American economy and become Americans over time." That was part of a broader immigration agenda that was derailed due to strong Republican opposition, and the high-tech community subsequently started lobbying for standalone legislation.

Smith's bill would have visas diverted from initiatives such as the diversity lottery, which allows people from underrepresented countries to vie for 55,000 annual immigrant visas. To be eligible for such visas, students would need to have job offers and make a minimum five-year commitment to staying in the United States.

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