Recently, the Harvard Business Review published an article discussing the battle to retain US educated international STEM grads and the need for improved US immigration policies to enhance US businesses trying to retain this talent as opposed to the current climate, where US immigration policy often forces STEM graduates to offer their talents overseas.
As part of President Obama's public claims to foster legal immigration and encourage entrepreneurship, the DHS announced several planned reforms to achieve these goals without the need for legislative action. We applaud the goals of the administration and these planned reforms and just hope that the culture of no which so permeates the agency at the service center levels are not able to quickly thwart the Preseident's plans in much the same way that Senator Grassley and his cohorts in Congress would most assuredly stop these reform measures if Congressional action were required.
Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3012, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act by an overwhelming vote of 389-15. This bill would change the way employment-based (EB) green cards are allocated by eliminating the per country quotas. If the bill becomes law, it will equalize the waiting times for employment based permanent residence, which would result in significant advancement in EB green card availability for India and China. Unfortunately, it would also create retrogression for persons from other countries, specifically those in the EB2 category, who now enjoy a "current" status. The seven percent limit per country would be eliminated by 2015. Instead of separate queues for each country in each employment based green card category, there would be eventually be a single queue for each employment-based green card category. Until 2015, per-country limits on green cards would still exist, but a certain number of immigrant visas would be immediately allocated to India and China and away from other countries. As a result, priority dates for India and China would quickly advance in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories. However, for other countries EB-2 could retrogress and EB-3 could see further retrogression. By 2015, the EB-2 and EB-3 categories would all be backlogged, but there would be a single priority date for all countries in each category. Although, certainly not a perfect solution, this bill is a step in the right direction and corrects one glaring defect in the employment based green card system. It is hoped that the positive reaction that this bill received in the House would motivate other immigration bills including: special treatment for STEM and Schedule A occupations, an overall increase in the level of employment based immigration, the elimination of counting dependents toward the overall EB quota, a re-capture of unused immigrant visa numbers from [...]
This week, the DOS released the November Visa Bulletin and the dates jumped once again for EB2 India and Chinese nationals but, remained painstakingly slow for all others. The National Foundation for American Policy recently released a study in which it calculated that the wait in the EB3 category had reached 70 years for Indian and Chinese nationals. Yes, that says 70 !
ICE recently announced that additional degree programs including computer science are being added to the STEM list making graduates of those programs eligible for the 17 month OPT extension program.