The long-awaited STEM visa bill has been introduced into the House of Representatives by powerful House Judiciary Chair Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). Versions of the STEM visa bill have been pushed in the past, but this one might be the best effort for enactment.
The STEM visa bill eliminates the 55,000 visa lottery and reserves these visas for graduates of US Masters Programs in STEM occupations. STEM occupations include Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The STEM visa bill includes language that limits its usage by some on-line only and for-profit colleges. The bill is expected to have wide support from many Congressman and Senators. Although President Obama has not commented on the bill, the conventional wisdom is that he would support the bill. Challenger Mitt Romney would almost certainly support the bill. He has advocated that he would “like to staple a green card to their diploma”.
Although allied healthcare occupations are not listed in the current version of the bill, the bill would help allied occupations by essentially increasing employment-based green card numbers by about 25%. Also, legislators could add healthcare occupations to the bill prior to enactment or even after enactment.
The biggest holdup to bill is the Congressional calendar. The calendar only has a few more legislative days between now and the Presidential election on November 6, 2012. There may be an active “lame duck” legislative period. The lame duck period is the period between the elections and the introduction of the new Congress and President in January 2013.
UPDATE (9/18/2012 11:00 AM ET): The Hill is reporting that Sen. Schumer (D-NY) will be introducing a related, although not identical, bill in the Senate. The report also indicates that Rep. Smith's bill may not only be introduced but passed this week.