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House OKs More Visas For Highly Educated

03 Dec 2012


Immigration News

 

The House on Friday approved legislation to increase the number of visas for highly educated immigrants and allow family members to stay in the United States while their own visas are processed.

Lawmakers voted 245-139 to approve the Stem Jobs Act, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. Stem - an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics - would increase by up to 55,000 a year the number of visas available for students who graduated from American universities with advanced degrees in those subjects.

"In a global economy, we cannot afford to educate these foreign graduates in the United States and then send them back home to work for our competitors," Smith said.

Although both parties support increasing visas for educated foreign graduates, Democrats contested the bill because the additional visas would be taken from the diversity visa lottery.

The lottery, which has no education requirements, was introduced in 1990 to increase opportunities for immigrants from underrepresented countries. The new legislation would end the program.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, sponsored a bill earlier this year to increase visas for educated immigrants without cutting the lottery. She said Smith's bill was a "colossal diversion" and doesn't expect the bill to be taken up by the Senate.

"This looks like a 'double-down' on the Grover Norquist-style 'no new immigration' pledge that they have been following for too long," Lofgren said in a statement. "Republicans need to move past these kinds of gimmicks and work with Democrats to reform our immigration system so it works for businesses, our economy and families."

The tweaked bill is part of immigration reform measures Republicans have offered since GOP candidate Mitt Romney lost huge portions of the Latino vote in the presidential election.

The legislation now will move to the Senate.

Source: http://www.sfgate.com/nation/article/House-OKs-more-visas-for-highly-educated-4082496.php#ixzz2DxSQj6V2


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