Congress Weighs STEM Visas as DHS Extends Some Grads’ Stay

The Department of Homeland Security announced Friday an expansion of the number of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) degree programs that qualify students to stay in the United States after they graduate. The move comes as legislation is set to be introduced that would expand the number of visas available to STEM graduate degree holders. Reforms like these are a step in the right direction toward meeting the demand for highly-skilled labor in the United States.

STEM graduates fuel the startup ecosystem by providing skilled labor critical to startups that develop innovative products and grow the American economy. Research has shown that many high-skilled immigrants go on to start successful companies of their own, further boosting job prospects for native-born Americans and generating large amounts of revenue. On Friday, CQ reported that Senator John Cornyn plans to unveil legislation that may increase the allotment of visas for immigrants with graduate degrees. While no specific language has been released yet, Engine will monitor and update on the bill as it emerges.

Bad immigration policy not only constrains the labor market, it also impedes the creation of entire businesses. U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has launched an initiative aimed at easing the visa process for foreign-born entrepreneurs. This is just one step forward in fixing a broken immigration system that is in need of broad reform, but these small changes can have a meaningful impact on small- and medium-sized businesses that are fighting for the talent to make their startups succesful.