AILA Applauds Hearing on Foreign Students Graduating with Advanced Degrees

Wednesday, October 5, 2011
George Tzamaras / Jenny Werwa
202-507-7649 / 202-507-7628 /

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) looks forward to today's hearing on immigration policy in the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. The hearing, "STEM the Tide: Should America Try to Prevent an Exodus of Foreign Graduates of U.S. Universities with Advanced Science Degrees?" will examine options for reforming U.S. immigration policy to do a better job of retaining foreign students who graduate in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Currently, foreign students must leave the United States upon graduation unless they are eligible for one of the few and limited ways to stay in the U.S. and work legally, such as the optional practical training program.

"Right now it is too hard for foreign graduates of U.S. colleges and universities to get the visas they need to stay here and put their education to use at American companies. They come here to get a first rate education and then have to take their advanced skill set out of the country because of stale immigration laws. It's a lose-lose situation in need of a real solution," said AILA President Eleanor Pelta.

Rather than create barriers to these foreign graduate students, we need to pursue STEM policies such as those that can be found in HR 2161, the Immigration Driving Entrepreneurship in America (IDEA) Act of 2011. Among the important reforms in the IDEA Act is a provision that exempts advanced STEM degree holders from numerical limits in place for employment based green cards.

"Any student with a degree in a STEM field has the potential to be a huge contributor to our economy. If the U.S. intends to continue to be the global leader in technological innovations, as it has always been, it must ensure that the smartest graduates coming out of our educational system are not kept out of our labor market because of short sighted immigration policies," concluded Pelta.


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 11100567.