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Congress Needs to Stop Flow of STEM Jobs out of the Country, but not at the Expense of Diversity, say SPIE Leaders
Date:1/8/2013

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA (PRWEB) January 08, 2013

Leaders of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, are urging Congress to pass new legislation fast-tracking and increasing the number of visas granted to high-skilled immigrants ? without undermining current programs that support immigration diversity.

“Retaining highly skilled and well-educated workers is imperative to continued technology competitiveness and economic growth,” said Robert Lieberman, chair of the SPIE committee on Engineering Science and Technology Policy. “The issue is of prime importance to maintaining a global leadership position, and needs to be solved independently of other immigration policies.”

There are currently several bills proposing new support for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) jobs before Congress:

  • The SMART (Sustaining our Most Advanced Researchers and Technology) Jobs Act of 2012, introduced by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware), would create a new visa category for students in STEM fields, enabling students who declare their intent to obtain work in a STEM field to remain in the United States to look for employment for up to one year, and for an additional six months once a job has been found and an application for a green card is being processed.
  • The STEM Jobs Act of 2012, introduced by House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), reallocates the 55,000 visas designated under the Diversity Immigrant Visa program for immigrants from underrepresented nations to foreign-born students with graduate STEM degrees earned at American universities.
  • The IDEA (Immigration Driving Entrepreneurship in America) Act of 2011 introduced by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren
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