New Delhi: US Senator John Cornyn introduced legislation to Congress on Tuesday to increase the number of visas issued to highly skilled workers.
India currently represents one of the top sources of foreign students to the United States at
The bill, called the “STAR Act of 2012,” would create 55,000 visas for foreign graduates from American universities holding Masters degrees or Ph.D’s in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields by allowing them to opt for dual intent when entering the United States. “I am confident the STAR Act will bolster American competitiveness and provide a stonger foundation for long-term development in STEM. It would also streamline the greencard process for STEM economic growth and job creation,” he said in the release.
The proposed bill comes roughly one month after India approached the World Trade Organization to complain about a 2010 law passed by the Obama administration that roughly doubled visa fees for highly skilled workers to $4500.
While comprehensive immigration reform is likely to be a hot topic in the upcoming presidential elections, the narrowly written STAR Act of 2012 holds some promise of bipartisan support, as both candidates have adopted official stances supporting policies that would maintain foreign graduates in STEM fields. In the fall of 2011, Romney released an economic plan to raise the ceiling on visas and streamline visa processes for such studentts. And Obama addressed the issue in this year’s State of the Union. Simultaneously, growing reports and media coverage of “America’s brain drain”--a trend of highly skilled foreign workers in the United States returning to their countries of origin--has provoked concern that the country may be losing its competitive edge.
India currently represents one of the top sources of foreign students to the United States at 104,000, second only to China, according to the 2010-11 report by Institute of International Education. Of these 61% are graduate students, most in STEM fields.