The reality of today’s global marketplace means that competition for talent is global as well.  Workers in Peoria, Ill., aren’t simply competing with workers in Houston, Tex., for jobs.  The workers in Peoria and Houston are also in competition with workers in places like Shanghai and Rio de Janeiro.

To make sure that American workers and the U.S. economy win that competition, public and private investments are needed to improve quality and participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.  Just as technological innovation accounted for almost half of U.S. economic growth during the past 50 years, almost all of the 30 fastest-growing occupations in the next decade will require at least some background in STEM.  To keep those jobs and those industries in America, our workforce must have the skills to compete in a global marketplace.  We need to ensure that the next generation of high-tech products is invented here and sold around the world.  That’s why ITI will continue to push for long-term policy solutions that 1) empower U.S. students from primary to higher education to excel in STEM fields; and 2) invest in basic research in U.S. universities, which often lead to next generation innovations and new businesses and jobs.

In the short- and mid-terms, U.S. policymakers also need to adopt approaches that keep talented foreign STEM graduates of U.S. colleges and universities in the U.S..  U.S. higher education institutions continue to attract foreign-born students to study and develop their talents at our colleges and universities, but, when they graduate, too many of them are forced to return to their native countries where they compete against us..  These skilled  innovators are potential business and job creators who can help grow our economy.  In fact, it is estimated that foreign-born graduates raise U.S. GDP by an estimated $37 billion each year.  Moreover, for every 100 foreign-born STEM graduates in the U.S., 262 additional jobs are created.  Yet, the U.S. immigration system follows an archaic, arbitrary structure that is driven by quotas set more than twenty years ago. It’s time to recognize the value that these innovative women and men offer to the U.S. economy, and adopt an immigration system that allows them and their cutting-edge ideas to develop here in the U.S.

ITI is a leading advocate before U.S. Congress and key federal agencies for immigration reforms that improve the ability of U.S.-based companies to recruit and retain highly-skilled foreign graduates and professionals.  These reforms include abolishment of per-country caps on employment-based permanent resident visas (known as green cards) , expansion of entrepreneurial and investor green cards, and making green cards more readily available to those with advanced degrees in STEM fields.  Collectively, these policies will reduce the already burdensome green card backlog and revitalize the U.S. as the most attractive place to innovate, and start job-creating tech businesses.