USA and the UK
What’s in the House bill?
On February 4th, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act of 2022 as a way to compete with China’s manufacturing industry.
As a way to foster competitive scientific research and innovation, the COMPETES Act added several provisions to the bill designed at attracting global STEM talent. Amongst these provisions include the following:
- The Let Immigrants Kickstart Employment (LIKE) Act, created by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). This Act will create a new Start-Up Visa for foreign national entrepreneurs and innovators to come to the United States for the purposes of establishing and developing their venture capital-backed start-up companies. In addition, the LIKE Act will also exempt individuals with a Ph.D. in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) from annual green card limits and USCIS backlogs.
- The Ross Amendment adds health professionals and related programs to the list of the STEM fields that will allow those who hold a Ph.D. in that field to be exempt from green card limits and backlogs.
- The Foster Amendment will allow international students who are in the United States studying in a STEM field to be given a ‘dual intent’ F Student Visa. This will allow the international students the opportunity to seek permanent residence status in the United States if they choose to do so.
- The Manning Amendment will allow individuals with a master’s degree who work in a ‘critical industry’ (an industry critical for the U.S.’s national security or economic security) to be exempted from annual green card limitations and backlogs.
- An amendment from Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) will create a new E-4 status for individuals from South Korea to come to the United States to work in specialty occupations on a reciprocal basis with the country.
Why the U.S. wants STEM professionals
Recently the U.S. government has started to acknowledge that other countries, such as Canada, are better adept at attracting and retaining more global talent than the United States, particularly in fields of STEM. It is estimated that approximately 56% of postdoctoral researchers, many of whom work in biological sciences, medical sciences, engineering, and research and development, are in the United States working under temporary visas. More than 70% of full-time graduate students studying electrical engineering, industrial engineering, and computer and information sciences at U.S. universities are foreign nationals.
It is believed that reducing the decades-long wait for a green card will entice these professionals to stay in the United States where they can continue their careers and research. This will allow the U.S. to gain the global competitive edge for cutting-edge research and technology which will help foster the country’s future economy.
Will the bill pass the Senate?
Although this bill passed Congress, it needs to pass Senate in order to put these immigration provisions into law. The House bill was passed 222 to 210 with only 1 vote from a Republican House Representative. In order to pass the Senate, it will need bipartisan support from both political parties in order to pass. Since the House bill was passed by a majority vote from the Democrats, it is expected that Democrats will have to make compromises with Republicans, particularly in regards to the bill’s trade policies.
However, a similar bill was passed in June 2021 so there is hope for bipartisan support regarding the passing of this bill. If the bill passes, it would be the first time in 30 years that such significant immigration reform has passed in the Senate.
Last modified on May 25th, 2022 at 3:24 am
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