The U.S. House of Representatives on November 30, 2012, approved a new immigrant visa category for foreign graduates of American universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as well as a new visa category to allow the spouses and children of US permanent residents to come to the US while waiting for their quota.  No similar legislation has passed the Senate and the likelihood of these new visas becoming available soon is low.  This is a sign, however, of the importance being placed on immigration after the election and an indication of the type of changes we may see in 2013.

The full text of the STEM Jobs Act (H.R. 6429) and more information can be found at http://judiciary.house.gov/issues/issues_STEM%20Jobs%20Act.html.

The Act creates up to 55,000 new immigrant visas annually to the STEM graduates and their accompanying spouse and unmarried children under 21.  This is not an increase in the number of new immigrants to the U.S., however, since the Act also eliminates the Diversity Visa Program.

The White House opposed this Act.  Although the administration announced support for legislation to keep STEM graduates in the US, the statement released stressed the importance of comprehensive immigration reform.  The full text of the administration's position can be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/112/saphr6429r_20121128.pdf