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Lawmakers on Capitol Hill consider Startup Act 2.0

While relatively few proposals that make their way into Congress seem to be associated with the term "bipartisan" in recent years, an immigration law reform measure has been introduced in both houses of Congress that reportedly has support from both sides of the aisle.

Representatives from both political parties have introduced the Startup Act 2.0 in the U.S. House. It is the same bill that was unveiled last week in the U.S. Senate. Florida Senator Marco Rubio was among the Senators who worked on the bill.

The Startup Act 2.0 seeks to create a new visa category for foreign nationals who obtain a graduate degree in the areas of science, technology, engineering or math-the so-called STEM fields. Recent research has indicated that jobs in the STEM fields are growing three times faster than any other sector of the economy.

One recent study reportedly says that American college and university students are not studying STEM field disciplines in sufficient numbers to fill the high-skilled jobs into the future. The research claims that by 2018, the U.S. faces a projected shortfall of 230,000 people with graduate degrees in the STEM fields to fill projected needs in the U.S. job market.

The National Science Foundation says that institutions of higher learning all across the country are struggling to attract students in the areas of math and science.

At the same time, roughly 60 percent of foreign-born nationals who were seeking a graduate degree in 2010 were studying science of engineering. One of the House sponsors of the Startup Act 2.0 says that, "Too often we educate the world's best and brightest in STEM fields, only to send them back to countries like India and China to open businesses and compete against us,"

The House proposal, like the bipartisan measure introduced in the Senate last week, would allow foreign-born nationals who earn a graduate degree in the STEM fields to obtain a visa to live and work in the U.S. after graduation. The bill would also create a new pathway to permanent residency in the U.S. for STEM field graduates who start a new company that creates jobs in the United States.

The measure also has provisions that propose to eliminate caps on the number of work-based visas allotted to each foreign country, and make some investments in new companies exempt from capital gains taxes to encourage investment in the young companies.

Source: Washington Post, "Startup Act 2.0: House lawmakers introduce Senators' immigration reform bill," J.D. Harrison, June 5, 2012

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