President Barack Obama’s big speech last night on immigration policy included several nuggets of interest to the research community—including moves that will make it easier for foreign students studying at U.S. universities to gain a temporary work permit, and for Chinese and Indian researchers who already have U.S. work permits to change jobs and apply for permanent residency.
But to the disappointment of the high-tech industry, Obama stopped short of using his executive power to address what they say is a chronic shortage of permits for highly-skilled foreign workers. That step, White House officials say, would require Congress to pass legislation that has been bottled up in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In the meantime, Obama followed through on a threat to take unilateral administrative steps because Congress hasn’t acted. The big news was a series of policy changes to enable some 4 million undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation, at least for the remaining 2 years of the administration. But Obama also announced policies, to be finalized over the next 4 months, which he said will “make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed.”Continue Reading »