Proposed US immigration bill would give foreign graduates a US green card

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Colorado US Senator Michael Bennet introduced a bill last month that would grant greencard visas to foreign students graduating in specialties in science, technology, engineering and maths. The hope, he said, is that international students trained in America will stay in the country to help fill shortages in high-tech fields instead of returning to their home countries and perhaps ending up helping overseas companies compete with US companies.

The proposed bill would create a new green card category for students graduating from US universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The bill would also give illegal immigrants a student visa if they enroll in a science, math or technology program as undergraduates.

According to Bennet's office, more than 50 percent of the doctoral degrees that US universities awarded in 2009 in the fields of physics, economics, computer science, chemistry and other high-tech fields were to foreign students. Bennet noted that US immigration policies are causing US companies to lose out; Overseas companies are gaining a competitive advantage over US companies by employing US educated students.

"We're saying, 'America is closed for business,'" Bennet said. "Why force our best and brightest students, those whom we have invested in so significantly, to leave just as they are best positioned to contribute to our society?"

More than 40 percent of the 2010 Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children, according to Bennet. In turn, these companies employ more than 3.6 million people nationally and generate more than US$4.2 trillion in revenue annually, which his staffers say creates jobs for Americans and fuels the economy.

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