A leading Republican in the Senate has unveiled legislation to raise the number of temporary visas for skilled technical workers from foreign countries, but prospects of passage this year could be clouded by election-year politics.
Senator John Cornyn, the senior Republican on a panel that oversees immigration, introduced a bill that would make an additional 55,000 visas available each year for graduates with master’s and doctoral degrees who have studied at US research institutions.
Cornyn’s proposal to add visas for foreign-born engineers, mathematicians, scientists and other with high-tech skills are important to US technology companies that want to improve access to an international pool of workers and stem the shortage of such talent in this country.
A Cornyn aide said the measure would not add to the overall number of US visas available, because it would eliminate 55,000 “diversity visas” for individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
Boeing Co Chief Executive Jim McNerney last week told a conference in Washington that the United States was losing critically needed engineers and others to competitor countries because they were being forced out after obtaining advanced degrees at U.S. universities.