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Congress considers visas for highly-skilled graduates

In a move that shows just how important immigration policy will become over the next few years, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a measure that would grant permanent visas to those immigrants who have advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, which would affect many in the Chicago area. Collectively, these areas of study are known as the "STEM" subjects.

The STEM proposal would offer an adjustment of status to about 55,000 immigrants who might otherwise have left the country. As the bill now heads into the Senate, there is a chance the details could be tweaked before a final version is put up to a vote.

Although offering visas under this bill would benefit thousands of people, critics of the bill say it disproportionately affects a certain segment of the immigrant population. The current proposal would replace the 55,000 visas that are currently granted by lottery to immigrants. This lottery includes immigrants of all educational backgrounds, so removing this opportunity for a visa could unnecessarily harm with lower educational attainment.

Projections estimate that the demand for STEM-related jobs is going to grow significantly over the next several years. As such, supporters of the bill argue that it's important to keep these individuals in the domestic workforce.

At the same time, observers note that only about 25 percent of the STEM jobs require advanced degrees, so many positions would be filled by less-skilled workers. This is why critics point out that this bill may actually prevent many people who could fill the jobs from being able to stay in their communities.

Regardless of how Congress proceeds, the visa application process will likely remain complicated for many immigrants. The hope is, however, that future policy changes will continually ease that process for immigrants and their families.

Source: The Chicago Tribune, "House votes to expand visas for high-tech workers," Alina Selyukh, Nov. 30, 2012

  • Our firm has helped Illinois families work toward an adjustment of status. To learn more, please see our Chicago immigration visa page.

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Godoy Olivieri, Ltd.-An immigration law firm

2021 Midwest Road
Suite 200
Oak Brook, IL 60523
312-445-0591 local
800-264-2752 toll free
630-705-5258 fax
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1655 S. Blue Island Ave.
Suite 300
Chicago, IL. 60608
312-445-0591 local
800-264-2752 toll free
630-705-5258 fax
Map & Directions