A bipartisan group of House lawmakers have introduced legislation that would make it easier for U.S. tech companies and other firms to keep talented foreign students who graduate from U.S. colleges in the United States.
Reps. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y.,Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., and others late Tuesday introduced a House version of the Startup Act 2.0, which was offered last month in the Senate by Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Mark Warner, D-Va., and others.
Like the Senate measure, the House bill would create a new visa for foreign students who receive graduate degrees from U.S. schools in the science, technology, engineering or math fields, known as STEM, that could eventually lead to permanent residency as long as they remain active in the STEM fields for at least five years. The measure also would create a new entrepreneur's visa for skilled legal immigrants who start a U.S. business and employ Americans and invest or raise capital in the United States. The bill also includes tax incentives to help new startups and would authorize research and development focused on helping universities bring research to market.
It's an issue of prime concern for tech firms, which argue that without changes to the current immigration system that would make it easier for skilled foreigners to stay in the United States, many companies may be forced to move work offshore.
"Startup 2.0 is about creating American jobs. Too often we educate the world's best and brightest in STEM fields, only to send them back to countries like India and China to open businesses and compete against us," Grimm said in a statement. "This bill will keep top talent here in the U.S. to open businesses that hire Americans, and drive U.S. innovation and competitiveness."
While the prospects for even small immigration-related legislation appear to be dimming in the Senate, it's unclear whether the bill may fare better in the House.
An aide for the House Judiciary Committee, which has primary jurisdiction over the issue, said the panel is studying the bill, adding that, Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, "believes we should make tweaks to our immigration system to allow some of the top foreign graduates of American universities to remain here long term."
On the bill's prospects in both chambers, Moran said in a statement to Tech Daily Dose that, "There is a concerted effort in both chambers, and we are encouraged by the amount of support both the Senate and House bills have gotten in a short amount of time."