bigstock-People-Visa-Sign-1751484July 25, 2012

We wanted to make sure you were aware of an interesting piece of legislation that was recently introduced by two members of the U.S. Senate.

In May, Senators Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee and Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, introduced Senate Bill 3192, which carries the title: “Sustaining our Most Advanced Researchers and Technology (SMART) Jobs Act of 2012.

According to the authors, SB 3192 is designed to create a path for non-citizens who earn a masters or doctoral degree in a STEM field from an American university to remain in the country for up to a year while they search for employment related to their field of expertise. Once they have received employment, they would be eligible for a green card. Additionally, these STEM-specific green cards would not count towards any caps or limits already in place.

SMART would make use of a new Family Fourth Preference (F-4) visa category. F-4 is currently a 65,000 cap non-immigrant category used for “brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.”

In the bill’s release, Coons pointed to his belief the U.S. has not been doing an adequate job retaining the most talented young minds it educates. “Instead of sending them home after graduation, we should be encouraging them to stay in the U.S. to pursue their innovations and create jobs here,” he said.

“It makes no sense to attract the most talented scientists and engineers from other countries to our schools to educate them, only to send them home to compete with American companies and create jobs in other countries,” said Alexander.

The authors pointed to some interesting statistics related to the bill, namely that immigrant-founded startup companies created 450,000 jobs in the last decade and have generated more than $50 billion in sales in a single year. Also, more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. In Silicon Valley more than half of new high-tech startups are founded by immigrants.