Introduces Legislation to Keep Best and Brightest in U.S. to Fuel Vital Industry, Create More Jobs and Boost Economic Growth
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, joined by rising stars of New York’s tech industry at the New York General Assembly, unveiled legislation earlier this week to reform the U.S. visa system to encourage the world’s best and brightest to stay in the United States after receiving their graduate degrees in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The “BRAINS Act” would fix a long-existing problem in our visa system that, despite a growing shortage of highly-skilled tech workers based in the United States, forces many of the world’s brightest students to return to their country of origin, taking with them any economic growth and jobs that they might create. A recent Center for an Urban Future report on the New York City tech industry identified broken immigration laws and the shortage of engineers as the top challenge to New York industry’s growth.
The legislation creates a pilot program through which 55,000 new green cards per-year will be available for foreign students who graduate from U.S. universities with advanced-degrees in STEM fields. It also reduces the red tape to obtain a student visa, and allows high-tech workers currently in the United States on temporary visas to renew their visas without first returning to their country of origin.
“It makes no sense that America is educating the world’s smartest and most talented students and then, once they are at their full potential and mastered their craft, kicking them out the door,” said Schumer. “We should be encouraging every brilliant and well-educated immigrant to stay here, build a business here, create wealth here, employ people here, and grow our economy. Fixing our broken green card system will help ensure that the next eBay, the next Google, the next Intel will be started in New York City, not in Shanghai or Bangalore or London.”
“The BRAINS Act will provide a critical boost to the economy,” said Jonathan Bowles, Executive Director of the Center for an Urban Future and co-author of “New Tech City.” “Right now, the single biggest obstacle to the continued growth of the tech sector in New York and the U.S. is the lack of skilled engineers and programmers. It will be years before our higher education system produces the pipeline of science and tech workers that’s sufficient to meet the demand. Until then, the only answer is to make it easier for the top engineers, programmers and scientists from overseas to come and stay here. Senator Schumer’s bill will make that possible.”
Current immigration policy encourages foreign students to study and get their degrees from America’s top universities, but discourages foreign students from remaining in the United States and starting new companies in America. Schumer noted that those students who wish to make America their permanent home must compete for very limited H1-B temporary visas that make it difficult to change jobs, earn a promotion, or travel abroad; or they must eventually give up and return home, wasting what is often up to a decade of educational investment by our American schools.
Schumer said that New York in particular stands to benefit from the legislation since it is not only a long-time magnet for the world’s smartest and most driven immigrants, but is also the sight of a booming tech industry badly in need of well-trained employees. In fact, a recent report from the Center for an Urban Future on the New York City tech industry suggested that current immigration laws and a shortage of engineers are the top challenges to New York industry’s growth. “New Tech City,” a study conducted by the Center for an Urban Future, concluded that New York’s technology industry is growing faster than anywhere else in America with over 400 technology companies that have been founded in the city since 2007. Schumer made the case that as a technology hub, New York would particularly benefit from this legislation and continue to create and fill more high-tech jobs vital to emerging start-ups and technology giants in and around Silicon Alley.