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US Congress to vote on STEM jobs act

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President Obama has been re-elected and will be inaugurated as president again in January. But, in the last days of the President's first term as president, there is some hope that legislation will be passed that would see 55,000 more green cards being granted to science graduates every year.

The STEM Jobs Act will, if it becomes law, take the 55,000 permanent resident visas (known as green cards) currently distributed every year in the 'green card lottery' and give them instead to PhD and Masters graduates from US universities who have degrees in the STEM subjects; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The bill was originally introduced in the House of Representatives in September 2012 but it failed to become law because Democrats in the House were opposed to the abolition of the green card lottery.

The Republicans have amended the act and now intend to introduce it again. This time, the bill will, if it becomes law, allow the wives and family of those who have green cards to live in the United States while they wait for their own green cards. A Republican spokesman told the Associated Press news agency that the bill is now 'family friendly, helping spouses and minor children would otherwise be separated from their families for extended periods of time.'

The STEM Jobs Act is supported by the US high-tech sector which believes that the new law would enable them to recruit talented and innovative graduates who they are currently barred from working in the US.

However, the bill would still abolish the green card lottery. The green card lottery is officially known as the Diversity Visa Program. Every year, the US holds a lottery and distributes 55,000 green cards to citizens from countries with historically low levels of emigration to the US. The Hispanic Caucus in the House of Representatives as well as the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Asian Caucus all declared themselves opposed to the act in September. The caucuses are bipartisan bodies representing Congressmen and women of different ethnicities.

US political commentators say that the reintroduction of the STEM Jobs Act shows that the Republicans are ready to negotiate and collaborate to reform the immigration system.

Bruce Morrison, once a Democratic member of the House of Representatives and now a political lobbyist in Washington, told Associated Press that the fact that the Republicans have reintroduced the act 'is a positive gesture that they want to do business on this subject'. Crystal Williams a director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association is also optimistic that the reintroduction of the bill is a positive sign. She told Associated Press that it sent a message to the Democrats saying 'We are here and we are ready to talk about immigration reform'. But Ms Williams said that it was unlikely that the bill would actually become law before President Obama's inauguration in January. It would need to be passed both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate to become law.

Ms Williams said that many Congressmen and women are now thinking of wider political reform of the immigration system which would deal with the question of illegal immigration and increase the numbers of visas available to skilled workers. 'People are now starting to think about broader reform,' she said. is a specialist visa consultancy with nearly twenty-five years of experience dealing with visa applications. We are OISC registered. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to the UK or your country of choice. Please feel free to contact us for further details.