Griffin: STEM Grads Unleash Innovation, Create American Jobs

Nov 30, 2012 Issues: Economy and Jobs, Immigration

WASHINGTON – Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02) issued the following statement after the House passed the STEM Jobs Act (H.R. 6429), a bill he cosponsored that would provide up to 55,000 visas annually for foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields:

“Despite the fact that we have the best universities in the world, U.S. job creators are grappling with a shortfall of qualified STEM graduates.  Under current law, many highly skilled, foreign-born students study in the U.S. but are forced to leave the country after graduation, allowing our nation’s global competitors to capitalize on their skills and productivity.  That’s like Arkansas recruiting the best college football players from Texas, training them on our offense, and sending them back to Texas to compete against us.  That doesn’t make any sense, and that’s why I am an original cosponsor of the STEM Jobs Act.  This bipartisan legislation will help us strengthen our economy, unleash innovation and create jobs here in America.” 

H.R. 6429 eliminates the diversity visa lottery, a program that randomly awards visas to immigrants and reallocates up to 55,000 visas annually under a new visa program for foreign graduates of U.S. universities in advanced STEM fields.  These STEM visas will be made available to foreign-born graduates of doctoral programs in the first instance, followed by foreign-born graduates of master’s programs.  To be eligible for a visa, a STEM graduate must have an offer of employment from a company that has certified that there are no American workers able, willing or qualified and available for the job.

Unlike a similar version that was voted on in the House in September, this bill includes a pro-family provision allowing spouses and children to remain with their family member while they wait for their green cards to become available.

According to a study conducted by the Partnership for a New American Economy, “[j]obs in science, technology, engineering, and math…are increasing three times faster than jobs in the rest of the economy, but American students are not entering those innovative fields in sufficient numbers.  As a result, by 2018, we face a projected shortfall of 230,000 qualified advanced-degree STEM workers.”

Further, an American Enterprise Institute study found that every foreign-born STEM worker with an advanced degree from a U.S. university creates an additional 2.62 jobs for American workers.

Another report by the Partnership for a New American Economy found that more than 40 percent of the 2010 Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children, and those companies employ more than 10 million people worldwide. 

A recent poll by Public Opinion Strategies found that 76 percent of likely voters support creating a new category of green cards for foreign students graduating with advanced STEM degrees from American universities who are sought after by American employers.

Griffin spoke in support of the legislation on the House floor shortly before it was passed: