STEM Visas Likely Topic for Lame Duck Session

November 13, 2012

Congress appears likely to consider legislation during the lame duck session which would provide visas to foreign-born students graduating from an American university with an advanced degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).

Both Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) have introduced two separate STEM visa bills in the House, while  Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has introduced a similar measure in the Senate.

Rep. Smith’s bill is called the STEM Jobs Act of 2012 (H.R. 6429).  It was brought up on suspension on Sept. 20, 2102 and failed to pass notwithstanding support by a majority of the House (257-158) because it failed to receive the two-thirds majority required to suspend the rules.  Rep. Lofgren’s bill is called the Attracting the Best and Brightest Act of 2012 (H.R. 6412).  Sen. Schumer’s bill is called Benefits to Research and American Innovation through Nationality Statutes Act of 2012 (S. 3553), also commonly called the BRAINS Act.

The Smith bill would create 55,000 permanent STEM visas but eliminate the diversity visa lottery.  The Lofgren and Schumer bills would increase the overall number of visas by 50,000 (Lofgren) or 55,000 (Schumer).  Both bills, unlike the Smith bill, would provide the increase for only two years and require employers to demonstrate that they are paying the visa recipients at least as high a wage as similarly situated Americans receive.

All three of these bills would help small businesses across the country attract and retain the workers they need to expand their businesses, create jobs, and maintain long-term economic growth. NSBA supports all three bills.

To read the H.R. 6429 (the Smith bill), click here.

To see the September 20th roll call vote on H.R. 6429, click here.

To read H.R. 6412 (the Lofgren bill), click here.

To read S. 3553 (the Schumer bill), click here.