The green cards should go to people who have job offers, the groups argued. "Employers who have offered positions to qualifying individuals, or already lawfully employ them, based on the quality of the individuals' skill set and STEM graduate training in the United States, should be the filter to identify which STEM graduates are sponsored for green cards," the groups wrote in their letter to Smith.
But there are numerous concerns as well.
Opponents of the idea worry that an easy path to green card via a Master's degree could lead to an expansion of low-quality college programs, and result in students who are hired at IT shops that do contract and outsourcing work, undercutting U.S. workers. Others argue that the U.S. isn't facing a shortage of skills.
Some proposals have sought to limit green cards to graduates of research universities, or only schools that now qualify for National Science Foundation research grants.
Whatever emerges from Smith's committee still has to face the Senate, where H-1B reformers such as Grassley are apparently working to foil Smith's efforts.
Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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