Issue Date: September 24, 2012
Congress Proposes Visa System Changes
Members of Congress last week introduced competing bills to reform the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) visa system. The key difference between a bill (H.R. 6429) by Rep. Lamar S. Smith (R-Texas) and one (H.R. 6412) by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) is whether to increase the overall number of immigrants allowed into the U.S. Smith’s bill would eliminate the 55,000 diversity visas currently handed out annually and would replace them with visas for those trained in STEM fields at U.S. universities. Lofgren’s bill, meanwhile, would maintain the diversity visas and add 55,000 STEM visas. On the Senate side, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced a measure similar to Lofgren’s. The lawmakers introduced the legislation a week after 165 university presidents and chancellors sent a letter to President Barack Obama and congressional leaders pointing out the opportunities that would be lost if politicians do not take up STEM visa reform. Congress is unlikely to pass visa legislation before adjourning this year.
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