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Rep. Judy Chu Leads Charge to Give Visas to STEM Graduates

October 23, 2012
Press Release

Washington D.C. – Today, Rep. Chu sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee urging immediate action on bipartisan legislation making it easier for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) graduates to get a visa to live and work in the U.S.  Tomorrow, Rep. Chu plans to make a special announcement regarding what she’s doing to push for STEM Visas. Congresswoman Chu released the following statement:

“We cannot wait to pass legislation that allows our best and brightest STEM students to create jobs here at home.  Our current system forces thousands of smart, talented foreign graduates who want to stay and innovate in the U.S. to leave our country – even if an American company wants to hire them.  That just doesn’t make any sense.

I believe we need immediate action to create visas for STEM graduates to live and work in the United States.  That is why I am a cosponsor of the Attracting the Best and Brightest Act, which would add 50,000 new green cards for STEM graduates.  That’s on top of the visas already available to immigrants from countries like Taiwan and Hong Kong under the Diversity Visa Program.  There is no good reason why we can’t have both immigration programs.

Sadly, instead of working across the aisle to write a bill that could become law, Republicans put a partisan anti-immigration bill on the House Floor for a vote, even though they knew it couldn’t pass. 158 Members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, voted against H.R. 6429 because it eliminated a whopping 55,000 visas from the already backlogged American immigration system.

I strongly urge my Republican colleagues to immediately come back to the table to create a compromise STEM visa bill that we can pass right away. Doing so will boost our economy and create jobs here at home. American companies and our gifted foreign graduates cannot wait.”

Today, Rep. Chu sent a letter to Democratic and Republican leadership on the House Judiciary Committee asking them to come together and craft bipartisan legislation creating visas for STEM students that can pass the House and be signed into law before the end of the year.  Click here to read the letter.

Rep. Chu is a lead cosponsor of the Attracting the Best and Brightest Act (H.R. 6412), which would create 50,000 green cards for persons with advanced degrees STEM from U.S. research universities.  This bill also saves the Diversity Visa Program, which helps immigrants from places like Hong Kong and Taiwan enter the U.S.  Unlike the Republican proposal, which gets rid of unused visas after 2014, Rep. Chu’s bill saves unused STEM visas giving them to immigrants waiting in the  decades long backlog for green cards to come to America.  Rep. Chu’s bill also allows companies to apply for a green card for foreign students right away, instead of first sending them home or putting them on a temporary visa.

STEM is one of many ways Rep. Chu has worked to make the immigration system fairer. Earlier this year, Rep. Chu voted in favor of H.R. 3012, the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, when it passed the House. Currently, there is a problem in which Chinese nationals are allotted the same number of employment-based and family-based green cards as are nationals of countries with much smaller populations like Iceland or Luxembourg. This bill removed the cap on Chinese immigrants coming to the U.S. under an employment green card and raised the cap for family based visas from 7% to 15%, significantly shortening the wait times for Chinese nationals to get a visa.   This bill passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate. Rep. Chu is also an outspoken advocate for comprehensive immigration reform to create a fairer immigration reform system for all immigrants from every corner of the globe.