Archive for: December, 2012

STEM-migration

Dec 04 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I was just recently reading a news piece announcing that the US House of Representatives approved a bill to allow 55,000 foreign students, who obtain a higher degree (PhD or Masters) in a STEM field in a US university, to apply for permanent residency in the US. This was apparently a bipartisan effort supported both by Democrats and Republicans. On the face of it, this is great news, it increases influx and retention of highly intelligent foreign scientists and engineers to the US. However there are a few caveats that make it less desirable. For one, this is not a trivial process, the bill requires that applicants go through labor certification, which means that you need an offer from a university who is willing to hire you and sponsor you and then they need to post the job offer to make sure that some more worthy US citizen couldn't fill this position first. This is a long, tedious process which universities and other employers go through now to hire people under H visas. Another limitation is that the bill excludes anyone in a biomedical field. Arguably research in biology and medicine is one of the most critically important areas of current scientific focus, and it seems shortsighted to eliminate this category altogether. Finally, if this program were to pass, it would completely replace the diversity visa category, basically a green card lottery to enable folks from various underrepresented areas of the world to immigrate to the US. Since there are less PhDs graduating in the "hard" stem fields than the 55,000 slots, the net result is a decrease in immigration. So while this bill seems like a step in the right direction, I wish it had been somewhat better thought out.

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