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Immigration Reform Tied to STEM Innovation

Northwestern hosts talk with congressman on how to keep talented international grads in U.S.

CHICAGO -- It’s the time of year when college graduates leave campus in search of new adventures. But that’s not so easy for international students who graduate from schools in the United States and want to stay to begin their careers, according to a recent discussion cohosted by Northwestern University. 

Featuring Rep. Robert Dold, R-Ill., the discussion at the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center focused on immigration policy reform and the impact it would have on innovation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

"International students come here for educational opportunities and to build their careers," said Jay Walsh, Northwestern vice president for research. "When they stay, they invariably have a strong positive impact on the U.S. economy.  We need to make sure these talented students can remain in the country to pursue their dreams."

A graduate of the Kellogg School of Management, Dold has introduced legislation to create a new visa program for up to 50,000 foreign students who earn either a master’s degree or Ph.D. in STEM from an American college or university.

Northwestern hosted the event with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and immigration reform group

Representatives from various educational programs geared toward STEM students discussed the advantages of making visas more accessible to international students who study in the U.S. 

Leslie Oster, director of Northwestern University School of Law's new Master of Science in Law (MSL) degree, noted that international STEM students bring diversity and perspective to the classroom and have much to offer when they graduate.

"Our first class of MSL graduates includes several international students eager to remain in the U.S. to work at and start companies,” Oster said. “They want to — and are very well-equipped to — contribute to the innovation economy.”

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