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California Healthcare Institute Urges Congress to Expand Access to H-1B Visas and Green Cards as part of Comprehensive Immigration Reform

La Jolla, CA (PRWEB) June 11, 2013

CHI-California Healthcare Institute this week submitted a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, expressing support of provisions included in comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would allow employers greater access to U.S.-educated and trained immigrant scientists and engineers. CHI is a non-profit public policy research and advocacy organization for California’s biomedical R&D industry.

California is the worldwide leader in biomedical investment, research and development, with more than 2,300 biomedical companies and public and private research institutions advancing scientific knowledge and developing new diagnostics tools, treatments, and technologies addressing diseases and conditions including cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, and cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious diseases.

As the Senate takes up legislation this week to overhaul our nation’s broken immigration system, CHI encourages Senate Leadership to ensure that the reform package includes provisions to expand access to H-1B visas and green cards for U.S.-educated and trained highly skilled immigrant workers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

Notably, a study released this week by the Washington, D.C. based Brookings Institution found that San Jose, California has the most STEM-based economy of all metropolitan areas in the country. Without expanded access to the most competitive graduate-level talent from around the world, California’s innovative biomedical sector will be hindered in its efforts to research and develop important new medicines and technologies for patients, thus weakening our position in the increasingly competitive global economy.

“While comprehensive immigration reform is needed now more than ever, it is essential that the U.S. remains the worldwide leader in breakthrough innovation and discovery by continuing to attract the best and brightest talent,” said CHI President and CEO David L. Gollaher, Ph.D. “We applaud the Senate for taking up legislation to address our broken immigration system, and urge congressional leadership to support a broad package of programs and policies aimed at educating, training and retaining sufficient U.S. graduates in STEM fields to fuel biomedical research and innovation.”

In the letter sent to Senate Leadership, CHI outlined three critical areas that must be prioritized and included as part of any comprehensive immigration reform legislation: increasing the cap on the advanced degree exemption for H-1B visas; exempting from the employment-based green card cap holders of advanced degrees in STEM disciplines from accredited institutions of higher education in the U.S.; and, making available H-1B visas and employment-based green cards for advanced degree holders from U.S. institutions in all life sciences.

“The vibrancy of California’s biomedical industry depends heavily upon providing employers and research institutions with a talent pool that is second to none,” said Todd Gillenwater, CHI’s senior vice president of public policy. “On behalf of over 275 leading life science organizations, we are pleased that S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, helps ensure our nation is able to continue attracting the most talented and highly skilled scientists and engineers to our academic institutions and businesses.”

Click here to view the letter sent to Senate Leadership.

About CHI
CHI represents more than 275 leading biotechnology, medical device, diagnostics, and pharmaceutical companies, and public and private academic biomedical research organizations. CHI’s mission is to advance responsible public policies that foster medical innovation and promote scientific discovery. CHI’s website is Follow us on Twitter @calhealthcare, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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