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WSJ: Rep. Lamar Smith to Introduce Bill to Provide 10,000 Visas Per Year to Ph.D. Graduates in STEM-related Fields

October 22, 2011

This morning’s Wall Street Journal describes proposed legislation announced by Rep. Lamar Smith, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which is set to be introduced in the next several weeks. The legislation is said to be yet another sign of growing “momentum” to address complaints from industry that the U.S. is losing highly-skilled workers to other countries.

The legislation would divert 10,000 visas a year from the Diversity Visa category to the Employment-Based visa category specifically for graduates from U.S. universities with doctorates in “engineering, information technology and the natural sciences,” categories considered part of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields.

Interestingly, the article notes “Mr. Smith plans to meet with his Senate counterpart, Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), to discuss his legislation in early November, a Schumer aide said.” Although the article mistates the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement (it is Elton Gallegly, R., California rather than Rep. Smith), in fact Rep. Smith has been described as “the key person in deciding what immigration bills move ahead or not.”

At the end of July, right before Congress broke for the August recess, the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security held a hearing in which Chairman Schumer and Ranking Member John Cornyn (R., Texas) commented that, although comprehensive immigration reform is not likely in the 112th Congress, both felt that they could work together on immigration legislation related to highly-skilled workers.



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