Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Quietly there has been a recent push in Congress to increase the amount of business based green cards.  Several different proposals are being considered.  Most will reduce the lengthy green card processing times for healthcare, IT, engineering, and other business-based green cards.  Business based green cards currently take anywhere from one year to ten years, depending on the type of job offered (EB1, EB2, EB3, etc.) and the country of birth of the applicant.  

As Computerworld explains, many of the proposals call for immediate or near-immediate green cards for foreign students who earn a master's degree and above in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM degrees).  The proposals differ in allocation of these visas.  One proposal by Sens. Alexander (R-TN) and Coons (D-DE) allows US STEM graduates to file for green cards after three years of working in the US.  As can be seen by the co-sponsors, this bill has bi-partisan support.

A  bill by Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) eliminates the diversity visa lottery and reserves those visas for US STEM graduates.  Sen. Cornyn's bill has some appeal because it does not add to the total pool of visas, which is major issue for some in Congress.

While these bills target non-healthcare occupations, both bills are expected to help healthcare, in several ways.  First, the language of the bills may still be tweaked to add in some healthcare occupations that are in short supply.   Second, the proposals may allow US government agencies to add or delete occupations as future events warrant.  

Even if no specific healthcare-friendly amendments are added to these bills, the simple process of drawing out thousands of STEM visas out of the general green card pools will reduce retrogression pressures.

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