Republicans are trying to pass a bill that helps foreign students with degrees in science and technology. They would issue up-to 55,000 visas to students with masters or doctoral degrees. The bill is in the House of Representatives.
The bill eliminates the 55,000 visas given out by lottery to immigrants from countries that do not have large numbers of immigrants in the U.S.
Democrats favor bills that add to the number of science visas but do not want to reduce the number of lottery visas. Some Democrats want to do this in a two-year pilot program. It would add 50,000 visas to the 55,000 already given out.
Currently, graduates have to apply for a visa, or green card. The process can take years before a visa is granted.
In 2009 foreigners made up about 45 percent of all graduate students in science and technology. They earned 52 percent of all new doctoral degrees in those fields.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City, a strong advocate of high-skilled immigration, urged lawmakers not to miss the moment. “There are real options for immigration reform on the table now, and from both sides of the aisle.”
If the bill passes in the House of Representatives, the Senate will take it up after the election.