House likely to vote on bill that would boost number of green cards

A bill from Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) that's aimed at boosting the number of green cards available to foreign graduates with advanced technical degrees from U.S. universities is expected to be voted on again in the House next Friday, according to industry sources.

The bill, the STEM Jobs Act, was voted on under suspension of the rules this fall, but failed to secure the two-thirds support needed in the House to pass. This time around, the bill is set to be brought up under regular order and likely win the majority vote needed to clear the lower chamber. 

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The House is expected to consider a revised version of Smith's bill that includes a new provision that would allow spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents to come to the U.S. to wait for their green cards, but they will not receive authorization to work, according to an industry source.

A spokesman for Smith could not be reached for comment.

The STEM Jobs Act proposes to reallocate 55,000 green cards to foreign-born graduates with advanced science, math, tech and engineering (STEM) degrees from U.S. universities by eliminating the diversity visa program.

The measure has faced pushback from House Democrats and the Congressional Tri-Caucus because it would eliminate that visa program, which allocates green cards to people with low rates of immigration to the U.S. via a random selection process. Immigrants from African nations have come to the U.S. through this program.

Boosting the number of green cards available to foreign-born engineers and technical graduates has long been a major priority for tech companies.