Law Office of Thomas K. Brown, LLC

Immigration and Family Law in Maryland

STEM Legislation Updates

The bipartisan “SMART Jobs Act of 2012” (“SMART” = Sustaining our Most Advanced Researchers and Technology — clever) bill is currently in the Senate.  The goal is to provide a new F-4 graduate educational visa in STEM fields — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — and ultimately green cards upon becoming employed in related fields.

Also in the Senate is the “STAR Act” — “Securing Talent America Requires” — providing for 55,000 immigrant visas for STEM advanced degree graduates in research institutions, and at the same time eliminating the Diversity Visa (the “lottery”) program.  Not sure how the two are related except perhaps to maintain a constant level of immigrant visas.

Another bipartisan Senate bill — the “StartUp Visa Act” — aims to attract foreign entrepreneurs creating US businesses in STEM fields.

On the employment side of things, it’s an exciting time for STEM-related activities.  Don’t look for any family-oriented bills anytime soon.

May 29th, 2012 Posted by | employment, immigration law | no comments

MSNBC: Employment-Based Petitions Plunge

MSNBC has an interesting article showing the declining number of immigrant worker petitions filed this year as compared with recent years. So far in 2009, only 36,000 petitions have been filed, compared with 104,000 in 2008 and 235,000 in 2007. The article highlights two reasons: (1) the flagging economy leading US employers to simply not hire; and (2) the very long wait times such petitions take.

I’m sure both points have merit, but the bigger issue is revealed in the recent Visa Bulletins which track availability of such visas. A very popular category is the EB-3 “skilled worker, professionals and other workers” category. As the August 2009 Visa Bulletin shows (posted below), these visas are simply unavailable at this time. This isn’t really a matter of a long wait time — the visas just aren’t available.  As it relates to long wait times, even EB-2 (generally requiring an advanced degree — masters, Ph.D) visas have wait times as long as 6 years for nationals of some countries.  It’s hard to imagine an employer who has to prove a present need to fill a bone fide position would be willing to wait that long to fill it.

I think the pure unavailability of EB-3 visas is what’s really at issue here. We’ll see what happens as the economy improves.

August 6th, 2009 Posted by | employment | no comments