High qualification US green cards versus random visa lottery

Published:  27 Nov at 6 PM
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In a move intended to announce a new US governmental stance on immigration reform, the random visa lottery may be replaced with high-skill green cards for selected applicants.

A rehashed bill, rejected when first introduced in September, has been set up for a Friday vote by House Republicans, following a vigorous debate within the party’s conservative movement. The Republican aim is to be seen as more approachable by the Asian-American and Latino vote pivotal in President Obama’s re-election.

The bill goes as far as to reverse Republican opposition to allowing children and spouses of legal immigrants to join them in the US on an immediate basis. However, its main thrust is to eliminate the ‘diversity visa lottery’ and replace it with green cards offered to immigrants with masters’ degrees or doctorates in math, science, engineering or technology.

The so-called STEM visas have bipartisan approval, but Democrats are reluctant to end the visa lottery in exchange. It seems the main problem is that, once a backlog of highly-qualified applicants is cleared, enough foreigners with advanced degrees to fill all the high-tech posts on offer simply won’t be available.

Organisations working with developing regions such as Africa have their concerns, saying that cancelling the diversity visa will remove most individuals’ only hope of legally entering the US. Technology lobbyists in Silicon Valley and other high-tech hotspots, however, favour ending the lottery and consider it outdated, stating that green cards are better given to highly-educated African graduates who’ve studied at US universities.

The bill is structured differently to its politically-slewed September version, and is expected to soar through its House of Representatives stage on Friday. However, it‘s likely to face more serious obstacles and opposition during its Senate phase.
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