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Bills would create new visas for skilled workers, entrepreneurs

Oftentimes, talented students come to the United States to get advanced degrees, only to be forced out after they have been educated. Entrepreneurs from other countries may also find it difficult to come to the United States to pursue business opportunities. Congress is currently considering two bills that would address these issues.

This week, lawmakers in the House of Representatives announced a new bill that would make it easier for tech companies in the United States to hire foreign nationals who graduate with advanced degrees from colleges and universities in the country. The bill is known as the Startup Act 2.0, and it has gained bi-partisan support.

The bill is very similar to another bill that was introduced in the Senate last month. Both bills would create a new visa for students from other countries who receive graduate degrees from schools in the United States in the science, technology, engineering or math fields, known as STEM.

Eventually, the visas could lead to permanent residency so long as the students remain employed in the STEM fields for a minimum of five years.

Additionally, both bills aim to create an entrepreneur's visa for legal immigrants who start businesses that employ Americans, raise capital and meet other qualifications.

The goal of both bills is to bolster the United States economy by welcoming skilled workers and entrepreneurs from other countries. American tech businesses called on Congress to make it easier for skilled workers from other countries to stay in the United States so that their businesses would not have to be relocated overseas.

So far, it appears the bills face the most opposition in the Senate. Members of the House are expected to show more support for the measures, though it's unclear at this point if the House will vote on the bill during this legislative session.

Source: National Journal, "Lawmakers Offer House Version of Startup Act," Juliana Gruenwald, June 6, 2012

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