WASHINGTON, D.C.—April 17, 2013—The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), representing U.S. leadership in semiconductor manufacturing and design, today applauded the introduction of bipartisan Senate legislation that would reform America’s high-skilled immigration system by allowing graduate students born outside the United States to apply for a green card and remain in the U.S. after receiving an advanced degree in a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) discipline from an American university, and by expanding the H-1B visa program. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 was introduced today by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” – Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) – and now awaits action from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“For too long, America’s outdated high-skilled immigration system has been an obstacle to U.S. innovation, job creation and economic growth,” said Brian Toohey, president and CEO, Semiconductor Industry Association. “The Gang of Eight legislation marks a critical and long-overdue step toward fixing this broken system so that companies in the U.S. semiconductor industry and throughout the broader technology sector have access to the best and brightest minds from around the world. SIA commends the bipartisan group in the Senate for developing this compromise legislation, and we look forward to continuing to work with leaders in Congress to improve the bill further throughout the legislative process.”
The legislation would exempt from the green card cap foreign nationals who graduate from an American university with a master’s degree in a STEM field or a Ph.D., allowing these students to apply for a green card and remain in the U.S. after receiving their advanced degree. Under current law, many of these students are forced to leave the U.S. after graduation, causing the U.S. to forfeit much-needed jobs and expertise to our competitors abroad.
The bill also would expand the H-1B visa program for highly educated workers who want to fill open jobs in the U.S. Earlier this month, the U.S. government reached the H-1B visa limit within one week of accepting applications, illustrating the overwhelming demand for skilled immigrant workers in the high tech community.
Additionally, the legislation would ramp up efforts to increase the number of American STEM graduates by raising employer green card fees to generate revenue for strengthening targeted STEM education programs.
“The country’s need for highly skilled and educated workers has never been greater, and the time for meaningful immigration reform is now,” said Toohey. “This legislation helps move the ball forward; now we must work together to get high-skilled immigration reform over the goal line.