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How will legislators increase number of highly skilled workers?

It is no surprise that there is currently a push for more highly skilled immigrants in Pennsylvania and across the country. We have talked about how difficult it is for graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to remain in the country after graduation, even if they have just the skills and education needed to drive the American economy forward. There are also a number of businesses who are getting together to advocate for an increase in the number of visas for highly skilled workers, but where will those visas come from?

The bipartisan group of legislators who were tasked with devising a comprehensive immigration reform bill seem to have found 50,000 visas through the Green Card Lottery program. If the immigration bill passes in its current position, it would completely eliminate the program, making it much harder for immigrants with only a high-school education from naturalizing as U.S. citizens.

The Green Card Lottery program is just that: a lottery for green cards. Unlike many of the other immigration schemes, this does not require a family sponsor or a job offer. Instead, if an individual can meet some basic criteria, such as having a high-school education or commensurate work experience, he or she can enter a drawing for an immigration visa. The program is seen as a way to give the poor or those with less privilege the ability to immigrate.

And, in that vein, there are some in Congress who believe the program should not be eliminated. What it ultimately boils down to, however, is what is the U.S. looking for from its immigrants: diversity or skill?

Source: Voice of America, "US Green Card Lottery Faces Elimination," Brian Padden, May 16, 2013

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