Silicon Valley Engineer Testifies before
Congress on Need to Retain Talented High-Tech
Students and Professionals
WASHINGTON (12 June 2008)
Congress should make it easier for foreign
graduate students and engineers to remain in the
United States, Silicon Valley engineer and
entrepreneur Lee Colby told a congressional
subcommittee at a hearing on Capitol Hill today.
Speaking before the House Judiciary Committee's
Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship,
Refugees, Border Security and International Law,
Colby testified in support of three permanent
immigration reform bills introduced by
subcommittee chair, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.).
Lofgren's proposals (H.R. 5882, 5921 and 6039),
which enjoy bi-partisan support, would:
Increase the annual number of visas granted
to professionals in science, technology,
engineering and mathematics (STEM) by
exempting from the cap on employment-based (EB)
permanent visas foreign students who earn
graduate STEM degrees in the United States;
Eliminate restrictive per-country limits on
EB admissions; and
Authorize the re-issuance of EB visas that
went unused because of processing delays.
Exempting U.S.-educated STEM graduate students
from permanent EB visa limits would help our
nation retain talented individuals who are
"Graduates from American schools are among the
most sought-after employees in the world," Colby
said in written testimony on behalf of IEEE-USA.
"This is especially true of students who receive
master's and Ph.D. degrees in STEM fields.
America has already invested in these students'
education. The students speak English, have
lived here for several years and, to qualify for
an employment-based visa, have a job. It is in
America's interest and Americans' interest that
we allow them to put their talents and education
to work here.
"Remember, it is not a question of whether the
talented graduates of our schools will get jobs,
only of where these jobs will be located. If we
force them to leave, the jobs they create will
not be in this country, but rather in whatever
nation had the foresight to accept them."
Lofgren's bills would give U.S. companies
greater access to talented workers from around
need to educate more of our own students in
these fields, but the United States does not
have a monopoly on talent," Colby wrote. "There
are hard working, innovative and smart people
all over this planet, many of whom would apply
their skills here, if given a chance.
"Congress needs to give them that chance."
Colby, who lives in Sunnyvale, Calif., worked
for 36 years as an electrical engineer for
Hewlett-Packard. Lee Colby and Associates, which
he started in 1997, consults on circuit designs
for some of the world's leading technology
companies. He served as chair of the IEEE's
Santa Clara Valley Section in 2005.
"Balanced reforms in the nation's legal
permanent and temporary admissions programs are
particularly important if U.S. employers and
U.S. workers are to compete and succeed in an
increasingly knowledge-based, technology-driven
global economy," Colby wrote.
Colby's testimony is available at
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