A bill has been re-introduced in the House of Representatives seeking exemption for foreigners with an American PhD in science, technology, engineering or mathematics to benefit Indians given that they constitute the largest number. This exemption is from the limits on the number of employment-based green cards and H1B visa awarded annually.
Introduced by Congressmen Erik Paulsen and Mike Quigley, the Stopping Trained in America PhDs from Leaving the Economy (STAPLE) Act, is likely to benefit Indians given that they constitute the largest number of students doing PhD in the US.
US universities have registered a sharp decline in the number of applications from Indian students after a spate of hate crimes and fear and anxiety about potential changes to visa policies by the Trump Administration.
Congressman Erik Paulsen said, “It is no surprise that the brightest minds from around the world come to the United States to pursue their advanced degrees, and we should be doing all we can to ensure students we educate and train here use what they’ve learned to contribute to the American economy”.
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Paulsen added, “With thousands of high-skilled jobs going unfilled, the STAPLE Act makes sure American companies are getting the talent they need. By stapling a green card or (a) visa to their diplomas, these professionals can invent and innovate new discoveries that grow our economy.”
Quigley, in his remarks, said if the US was serious about fostering innovation, spurring economic activity, and staying competitive in the global marketplace, it must encourage the brightest minds in the world to study, work, and stay in its communities.
Mike Quigley said, “We cannot advance our technology or research if we continue sending foreign-born, but US educated, students with advanced degrees away”.
Noting that the H1B visa are subject to annual caps that are woefully short of the number necessary to fill high- skilled jobs, the two lawmakers in a statement said numerous studies have found that H1B visas correspond with an increase in jobs for native citizens.
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For example, a 2011 American Enterprise Institute study found that “an additional 100 foreign-born workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) fields with advanced degrees from US universities is associated with an additional 262 jobs among US natives,” they said.
A lot of universities are concerned about declines in master’s students from India. The master’s students coming from India are ultimately hoping to get on the job market here through OPT (Optional Practical Training) and eventually H-1B visa. The optional practical training programme allows international students to work for one to three years on their student visas after graduation. There’s a lot of fear and anxiety about potential changes to H-1B visa policy and/or OPT that would limit such opportunities.
Last month, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order for tightening the rules of the H1B visa programme to stop “visa abuses”. Trump said his administration is going to enforce ‘Hire American’ rules that are designed to protect jobs and wages of workers in the US.
The executive order also called upon the Departments of Labour, Justice, Homeland Security, and State to take action against fraud and abuse of H1B visa programmes.
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