ASEE Leads Advocacy For Green Card Cap Waivers in Competitiveness Bill


ASEE Leads Advocacy For Green Card Cap Waivers in Competitiveness Bill

A year-long effort by congressional leaders to invest in innovation, STEM, and increased US competitiveness is represented by two bills: the America COMPETES Act in the House of Representatives and its Senate companion, the United States Innovation and Competition Act. In March, ASEE wrote a letter to House and Senate Judiciary Committee leadership advocating for green card cap waivers within the competitiveness package. The Society also organized thirty-three scientific societies, professional organizations, and institutions of higher education to sign it.

At press time, Congressional leaders were negotiating the differences between the two bills. ASEE’s letter expressed support for Section 80303 of the America COMPETES Act and called on Congress to include the provision in the final competitiveness package.

If included in the final bill, Section 80303 would exempt doctoral and—in the case of critical industries—master’s students with STEM degrees from caps on green cards and streamline the visa process. The Society believes that, in doing so, the country will “strengthen our global competitiveness by making it easier for the best and brightest scientists from around the world to conduct their careers in the United States.”

The letter also advocates for expanding eligibility requirements. As currently written, the waiver would apply only to graduates of institutions with certain research expenditures or Minority-Serving Institutions with high levels of research activity, as determined by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Expanding the eligibility would increase the number of STEM professionals who could stay in the United States and “contribute to our innovation ecosystem.” As ASEE and its cosigners put it, “these requirements leave out talented graduates from many institutions across the United States and should be broadened to capture the full international STEM talent pool.”

Congressional leaders hope to be able to vote on the final competitiveness package by Memorial Day.  As proposed, the legislation would not only help increase the country’s domestic competitiveness, ASEE’s letter explains, but also present an opportunity for investments in STEM education and the workforce. “The member institutions of ASEE and the other undersigned organizations greatly benefit from the talent, intelligence, work ethic, and diversity of thought that international faculty and students bring to their campuses.”
 

 

 

 

March 22, 2022

The Honorable Dick Durbin
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
711 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Chuck Grassley
Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee
135 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Jerrold Nadler
Chairman, House Judiciary Committee
2132 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Jim Jordan
Ranking Member, House Judiciary Committee
2056 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Grassley, Chairman Nadler, and Ranking Member Jordan,

On behalf of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and the undersigned organizations, we wanted to express our appreciation for Congress’ recent work on the United States Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260) and the America COMPETES Act of 2022 (H.R. 4521). These bills are integral to increasing the United States’ domestic competitiveness and present a unique opportunity for investments in the STEM education and workforce ecosystem. While there are many provisions of the competitiveness package that we support, we write today to thank the House Judiciary Committee for its immigration provisions in the America COMPETES Act and encourage Congress to include the Section 80303 from H.R. 4521, or something similar such as Senator Durbin’s Keep STEM Talent Act of 2022 (S.3638), in the final conference package. Allowing doctoral, and in the case of critical industries, master’s students with STEM degrees to be exempt from caps on green cards and providing for dual intent to streamline the visa process will strengthen our global competitiveness by making it easier for the best and brightest scientists from around the world to conduct their careers in the United States.

In addition to being supportive of Section 80303 from H.R. 4521, we encourage the definition of STEM programs eligible for the green card cap exemption to be expanded to include all of the Department of Homeland Security’s STEM Designated Degree Program List. Expansion of the definition of eligible STEM degrees would increase the number of professionals able to stay in the United States and contribute to our innovation ecosystem. Additionally, we urge Congress to broaden the list of eligible institutions to include all accredited public and non-profit institutions. The current eligibility requirements restrict the waiving of the green card cap to graduates of institutions based on research expenditures or Minority-Serving Institutions with very high or high levels of research activity as determined by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. These requirements leave out talented graduates from many institutions across the United States and should be broadened to capture the full international STEM talent pool.

The American system of higher education attracts the best and brightest students and scientists from around the world, who contribute mightily to our economy and innovation ecosystem. The member institutions of ASEE and the other undersigned organizations greatly benefit from the talent, intelligence, work ethic, and diversity of thought that international faculty and students bring to their 2 campuses. We are excited by the inclusion of Section 80303 in H.R. 4521, as it would make it easier for STEM graduates to stay in the United States after graduation and use their skills and education to contribute to our national innovation, economic development, and security, and hope to see Section 80303 included in the final conference legislation.

Sincerely,

The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

American Anthropological Association

American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research

American Institute of Biological Sciences

American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering

American Mathematical Society

American Physical Society

American Psychological Association

American Sociological Association

American Society of Agronomy

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

American Society of Civil Engineers

American Society of Plant Biologists

Association for Materials Protection and Performance

Association for Women in Mathematics

Biophysical Society

Council of Graduate Schools

Council of Scientific Society Presidents

Crop Science Society of America

Duke University

Ecological Society of America

Entomological Society of America

INFORMS

Materials Research Society

Minerals, Metals & Materials Society

New York University

Rochester Institute of Technology

Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

Soil Science Society of America

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

UCLA

University of Maryland, College Park

University of New Hampshire

University of Oregon