BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA (PRWEB) January 08, 2013
Leaders of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, are urging Congress to pass new legislation fast-tracking and increasing the number of visas granted to high-skilled immigrants ― without undermining current programs that support immigration diversity.
“Retaining highly skilled and well-educated workers is imperative to continued technology competitiveness and economic growth,” said Robert Lieberman, chair of the SPIE committee on Engineering Science and Technology Policy. “The issue is of prime importance to maintaining a global leadership position, and needs to be solved independently of other immigration policies.”
There are currently several bills proposing new support for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) jobs before Congress:
"STEM-educated graduates are vital for innovation in both the private and public sector; they will build the future of this country." Lieberman said. "Helping these highly educated, highly motivated people achieve permanent legal status via an expedited and straightforward process will allow the U.S. to capitalize on the investment it has already made in them. Their contributions to society will create new jobs, and even whole new industries, improving our lives and expanding the economy."
"Many of the top schools in optics and photonics are in the United States, and top students from around the world compete to study here," SPIE Immediate Past President Eustace Dereniak, a professor in the College of Optics at the University of Arizona. Each June, approximately 17,000 masters and doctoral students graduate from U.S. universities and return to their home countries, denying the United States access to their innovative, job-creating potential, he said.
Looking at the numbers, Lieberman noted that:
SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. The Society serves nearly 225,000 constituents from approximately 150 countries, offering conferences, continuing education, books, journals, and a digital library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional growth, and patent precedent. SPIE provided $3.3 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2012.