Ask: We urge members of Congress to cosponsor and pass the Keep STEM Talent Act this year to create a direct path to green card status for U.S. advanced STEM degree graduates (master's and higher) and exempt them from the annual green card caps.

International students are a driving force behind U.S. leadership in research and innovation, both on college campuses and in the workplace. More than a quarter of all billion-dollar startups in this country were founded by international students. During the 2022-2023 academic year, they generated more than $40 billion and supported nearly 370,000 jobs in the U.S. economy.

Other countries are working hard to attract international talent. A potential path to employment and an option to remain in the country permanently after graduation would be a powerful incentive for international students to choose the U.S. The bicameral, bipartisan Keep STEM Talent Act does this for a key segment of international students while also addressing a pressing labor shortage in the U.S. economy. The bill:

  • provides a path to permanent residency to international students who have a STEM advanced degree (master’s level and higher) from a U.S. college or university and exempts them from the annual green card caps, and
  •  expands dual intent for these students so they will no longer have to prove they will not stay beyond graduation.

The direct path to green card provision in the bill requires that the students be employed in their area of study, be paid higher than the median wage in the location, and prove to the U.S. Department of Labor that there is no U.S. worker ready, willing, and able to do the job. The bill also adds a requirement that international students already in the United States who seek to pursue a master’s or PhD STEM degree undergo a vetting process that is equivalent to that of an international student applying for a visa from outside the United States. 

More information:

Congressional Contacts:
Sen. Durbin:     Ami Shah ([email protected])
Sen. Rounds:   Jackie Bossman ([email protected])
Rep. Foster:     Edwin Kindler ([email protected])
Rep. Lawler:     Courtney Kaufman ([email protected]

NAFSA Contact:
Heather Stewart, Counsel and Director, Immigration Policy
[email protected]