House Subcommittee Discusses Green Cards for Grads Bill

The House Judiciary Committee subpanel on immigration recently discussed a bill to grant legal residency to international students who earn a graduate degree in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics field from a U.S. institution. The measure was introduced in June by Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren from California.

At the hearing, Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, asked whether green cards would potentially be granted to students who enrolled in a program just to become a legal resident, and who have no intention of pursuing a career in the sciences.

Judiciary Chairman Lamar Hunt, a Republican from Texas, acknowledged that “our immigration system does not always put American interests first”; however, he shared Nassirian’s concerns, and pointed to Australia as a country that has been seen as “selling education for visas.”

Lofgren explained her provision would only apply to roughly 200 research institutions approved by the National Science Foundation. According to The Hill, she said, “You don’t want some Internet U. That’s not what we have in mind.”

The hearing occurred on the same day that Business Roundtable and Harvard University hosted a roundtable in Washington, D.C., at which a science adviser to President Barack Obama said the administration wants to encourage highly skilled students to work in the United States after graduating, Bloomberg reported.