A House bill was introduced yesterday that would make it much easier for some foreign Ph.D. degree holders in the U.S. to obtain a work visa and green card.

The “Stopping Trained in America Ph.D.s from Leaving the Economy” (STAPLE) Act would exempt Ph.D. degree holders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics from caps on H-1B visas and employment-based green cards.

Currently, H-1B visas are capped at 65,000 annually and there is an exemption from the cap for the first 20,000 petitions for individuals with masters degrees or higher.

The bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., and Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., aims to retain high-skilled foreign graduates.

“America’s leadership in research and technology is being threatened by our current immigration system that sends foreign-born, but U.S. educated, students back home to compete against us after earning advanced degrees,” Quigley said in a statement.

The STAPLE Act was originally introduced in 2009 and has been reintroduced several times since then, most recently in 2012 when it was defeated in the House by a vote of 257-158. The bill will now be assigned to committee for additional consideration.

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