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January 31, 2024

King Seeking to Remove Green Card Cap for STEM Graduates, Bolster American Workforce

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. graduate students in key fields such as artificial intelligence (AI) and semiconductor-related programs were born abroad

WASHINGTON, D.C.– U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME) is cosponsoring a bipartisan bill removing the green card cap for graduates with certain science and technology advanced degrees and a job offer in the United States. The Keep Stem Talent Act of 2023 would provide graduates that have completed advanced Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) degrees from U.S. educational institutions and American job offers with lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, exempting them from the employment-based green card cap.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. graduate students in key fields such as artificial intelligence (AI) and semiconductor-related programs were born abroad. Many of these international students that studied at U.S. institutions return to their home countries after their higher education is completed even if they wish to stay in America, resulting in them competing with the U.S. scientific community. Additionally, immigrants have founded or cofounded nearly two-thirds (65% or 28 of 43) of the top AI companies in the United States, and seventy-seven percent of the leading U.S.-based AI companies were founded or cofounded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. The Keep Stem Talent Act of 2023 encourages foreign students with advanced STEM degrees, including a master’s degree or higher, to accept jobs in the United States.

“I agree with those who say when a bright young mind walks across a stage and graduates from America’s universities with a science-related degree, they should have a green card stapled to their diploma to immediately contribute to America’s tech sector,” said Senator King. “The Keep STEM Talent Act of 2023 would provide lawful permanent resident status for certain advanced STEM degree holders to support U.S. research in those key science and technology industries. We must continue working together to help advanced degree holders, like those from the University of Maine system, obtain resident status, while supporting emerging tech industries that are eager for top talent.”

More specifically, the Keep STEM Talent Act of 2023:

  • Addresses Green Card Backlogs: exempts advanced STEM graduates who are educated at U.S. universities and have a job offer in the United States, along with their spouse and children, from numerical limitations for employment-based green cards.
  • Protects U.S. Workers: protects American STEM workers by requiring that employers sponsoring foreign STEM graduates under this bill agree to pay workers hired above-average wages.  
  • Permits Dual Intent: allows advanced STEM degree students at U.S. universities to have dual intent, meaning that they will not lose their student visa status if they are sponsored by an employer for a green card.
    • Currently, a student visa holder cannot apply for a green card while in student status. 
  • Imposes Rigorous Vetting: requires advanced degree students in STEM fields to apply for a visa or status before starting their advanced degree program, requiring them to undergo rigorous vetting and address any national security or counterintelligence concerns prior to being approved for student status.
  • Expands STEM Definition: includes computer and information sciences and support services, engineering, mathematics and statistics, biological and biomedical sciences, physical sciences, agriculture sciences, and natural resources and conservation sciences.

The bill is cosponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mike Rounds (R-SD).

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Senator King is a staunch supporter of promoting American innovation in emerging technologies. In addition to advocating for US technology independence and expanding broadband connections across America, King has supported expanding STEM education for Maine students.


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