Visas & Immigration

To encourage the best and brightest international students to apply to U.S.-based STEM graduate programs, Senators should support the “Keep STEM Talent Act of 2019.”

In 2017, there was a sharp drop in the number of international graduate student enrollments in STEM fields—reversing a trend of consistent growth. In 2018, a survey of 49 of the largest physics Ph.D. programs in the U.S. found there was a nearly 12% decline in international applications between 2017 and 2018. These unexpected declines in both international student applications and enrollments, along with proposed visa policy changes, suggest that the pool of international STEM students at U.S. programs may continue to drop.

This decrease in international STEM students is detrimental to the U.S. economy. According to a 2012 ITIC report, research has found that “every foreign-born student who graduates from a U.S. university with an advanced degree and stays to work in STEM has been shown to create on average 2.62 jobs for American workers—often because they help lead in innovation, research, and development.”

Under current law, international students pursuing advanced STEM degrees in the U.S. can be denied student visas if they intend to work in the U.S. after they graduate. Furthermore, international graduates of U.S. advanced STEM degree programs face difficulties in becoming lawful permanent residents and can be stuck on temporary work visas for years.

The decline in international STEM applications could be reversed by supporting the “Keep STEM Talent Act of 2019.” If enacted, this bill would authorize advanced STEM degree students on F-1 visas to express dual intent and legally declare their intent to pursue careers in the U.S. post-graduation. It would also allow international students who have earned advanced STEM degrees from U.S. universities and received standing offers of employment, which pay above the median wage level for the position in the geographic area of employment, to be exempt from restrictive green card caps.

International students would be incentivized to bring their talents to the U.S., while students that have received an education in the U.S. would be able to remain after graduation. These high-skilled graduates would help U.S. companies fill their currently unmet STEM workforce needs, rather than compete directly against Americans.

APS firmly recognizes the importance of international STEM students. The “Keep STEM Talent Act of 2019” would encourage these students to enroll in U.S. STEM programs and help ensure that talented, U.S.-educated international students have the opportunity to stay and contribute to our country.

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The Impact of Personalized Emails

Although personalizing your email with your own experiences and anecdotes may take a few extra minutes, research shows that it is well worth the time. According to a Congressional Management Foundation survey, individualized emails are the second most effective method overall for positively influencing a member’s decision on an issue. Individualized email messages are also 64% more effective than form email messages.

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Furthermore, 83% of congressional staff surveyed said that it would take more than 50 form emails for them to consider taking the action requested. On the other hand, 70% of staff said that it would take less than 50 personalized emails for them to consider taking action. We encourage you to personalize your emails to Congressional members in order to maximize the impact of your voice.

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