Effort to Retain STEM Graduates Welcomed in the US
|10 October, 2023
The US international education sector has supported proposed legislation to retain STEM graduates within the country. Nevertheless, concerns persist regarding the potential challenges of passing the bill, given political obstacles and the looming possibility of a government shutdown.
The Keep STEM Talent Act, introduced by bipartisan lawmakers including US representatives Bill Foster, Mike Lawler, Wiley Nickel, and Sylvia Garcia, aims to grant advanced STEM degree holders eligibility for permanent resident status. Additionally, it seeks to permit them to remain in the US after graduation and eliminate barriers to working there.
Congressman Bill Foster stressed the importance of expanding America's STEM workforce to remain competitive globally. He argued that allowing international STEM graduates to stay would advance scientific research and technological development and create well-paying American jobs.
Congressman Mike Lawler pointed out that many international students receive a top-notch US education but often leave after graduation. The Keep STEM Talent Act, he believed, would enable more international students with advanced STEM degrees to work in the US, contributing to the nation's position as a leader in science and technology.
Heather Stewart, counsel and director for immigration policy at NAFSA, highlighted the need for the US to compete with other countries in attracting and retaining highly educated individuals who drive innovation and contribute to local communities and economies. She mentioned that while other nations have created paths to permanent employment and societal integration, the US lacks a clear route to green card status for international students.
The Keep STEM Talent Act would offer a direct path to green card status for certain US STEM degree graduates, removing annual green card caps. Greater certainty regarding post-graduation employment would enhance the appeal of US higher education institutions and significantly benefit the economy.
Despite bipartisan support for the legislation, challenges lie ahead, as the bill's passage could be hindered by political factors and a potential government shutdown. However, its potential impact on retaining skilled graduates and bolstering the value of a US education makes it a welcomed proposal.