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  • SPIE Backs SMART Jobs Bill
Jun 2012
BELLINGHAM, Wash., June 4, 2012 — A new bill that will enable foreign students educated in US graduate programs to more easily stay and work in the country has gained support from leaders of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

The Sustaining our Most Advanced Researchers and Technology (SMART) Jobs Act of 2012 would create a new visa category for students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The new category would allow students who declare their intent to obtain work in the STEM field to remain in the US to look for employment for up to one year, and for an additional six months once a job has been found and an application for a green card is being processed.

“Many of the top schools in optics and photonics are in the United States, and top students from around the world compete to study here,” said SPIE president Eustace Dereniak. “For many graduates, their first choice would be to stay on to work in leading labs in the US. However, at this time they are required to leave the country upon graduation, and must conduct their job searches from outside the US before they may apply for the limited number of work visas that are made available each year.

“SPIE has long been an advocate for finding solutions that would permit talented new PhDs who have been trained in the US universities and who want to continue to work to do so.”

In the past 15 years, immigrants have founded one-fourth of US venture-based public companies, according to Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware), who introduced the bill with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee). Intel, eBay, Yahoo! And Google are among those founded at least in part by immigrants, and together they account for more than 150,000 jobs, he said.

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