Last week a bipartisan group of Senators introduced a bill to increase the number of H1-B visas (or, work visas) and to also automatically issue green cards to those graduates in the STEM fields. If you are not yet familiar with STEM, it is an acronym for degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. These degrees are in high demand – especially in the USA – due to the lack of qualified candidates in the US for high-tech jobs.

This legislation, also known as the “Immigration Innovation Act of 2013”, would encourage those international graduates to stay in the US and contribute to the economy. As the US President, Barak Obama, announced comprehensive immigration reform, this is considered the first of a four-part plan to change the way immigrants are allowed in.

According to the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange, this legislation would:

  • Automatically grant green cards to relatives of international workers without counting these toward the green card cap, thus freeing up more green cards for international workers;
  • Almost double the number of H-1 B visas from the current cap of 65,000 to 115,000, or even more depending on the market’s demands;
  • Grant work permits to spouses of temporary workers;
  • Make job changes easier for temporary workers;
  • Allow for unused employer-based visas to be rolled over from one year to the next;
  • Use visa processing fees paid by employers toward a fund designed to boost STEM education in the U.S.

To read more about these and other immigration changes, check out the White House’s statement on US immigration reform.

* Photo of US Green Card courtesy of Shutterstock