Senator Schumer and Senator Coons introduced BRAINS Act today, which would give 55,000 Green Cards for Masters and PhD graduates from US Research Universities.

Following is the press release that explain about the BRAINS Act.


The BRAINS Act will finally provide the much-needed reform to our high-skilled immigration system that America needs to ensure that the industries of the 21st century take root here in the United States.  It will accomplish this goal in the following ways:


1.     It creates a 2-year pilot program to provide 55,000 new green cards per year for foreign students who graduate from U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (“STEM”).


2.     To be eligible, an alien must 1) have received a master’s degree or higher from an eligible U.S. university in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics; 2) have an offer of employment in the U.S. in a STEM field, and 3) be petitioned for by an employer who has gone through labor certification to show that there are not sufficient American workers able, willing, equally qualified and available for the job at the wage level paid by the employer to all other individuals with similar experience and qualifications for the job.


3.     To be eligible for its students to receive green cards, a university must be: 1) accredited; 2) at least 10 years old; and 3) classified as a research institution by the Director of the National Science Foundation.  The school cannot provide incentive payments to persons based on securing foreign students for the university.


4.      It encourages the best and brightest foreign students to study, live, and work in the United States by allowing them to receive student visas to attend our colleges and universities to study in STEM fields.  STEM students will no longer be required to demonstrate that they have no desire to stay permanently in the U.S. as a precondition to being allowed to attend school here.

5.   It provides any unused green cards from this program to be used to reduce the backlog for employment-based green cards that exists for highly-skilled STEM advanced-degree graduates from foreign universities.

6.   It allows temporary workers on high-skilled visas who have not violated their status to renew their visas from within the United States.

7.   I provides labor protections to ensure that foreign workers do not take high-paying high-skilled jobs that American workers are available to fill.

8.   It codifies the practice that the priority date (for determining an alien’s place in line) for an employer’s green card petition is the date that the employer files the labor certification application.  The bill also ensures that an alien who switches from one green card family-preference category to another retains their original priority date, and that an alien who switches from one green card employer-preference category to another retains their original priority date.

9.   It expands “age-out” protection in current law to benefit minor children who turn 21 while they wait for their green cards to become available.

10.  It encourages highly skilled workers to remain in the United States by providing for faster reunification with their spouses and minor children.  This is done by creating a new entry slot for a nuclear family member of a highly-skilled permanent resident when a lawful permanent resident is deported.  Consequently, net immigration is not increased, but family reunification is expedited.

BRAINS Act Details

Here is something interesting about requirements about the University

To be eligible for its students to receive green cards, a university must be:

  • accredited;
  • at least 10 years old;
  • classified as a research institution by the Director of the National Science Foundation.
  • school cannot provide incentive payments to persons based on securing foreign students for the university.

If  I’m reading its right, the last point  is HUGE.

If university is working with agents that provides commission to recruit students, then graduates from such universities will not be eligible for Green card.

There is a similar bill to give Green cards to US MS, PhD graduates by Congressman Lamar Smith – STEM Jobs Act of 2012, H.R. 6429.

Stay tuned for more details from both bills.  With election coming in less than 50 days and congress going on recess (by this week), chances of this bill moving forwards before election is very less. Maybe in Lame Duck session (after election) this bill can be passed.

> HR 3012 Status


  • Raj

    Excellent Information , But i guess there is a big fight going on between Republicans and Democarts on behalf of STEM & BRAINS bills. Any way the Republicans bill didn’t get passed by House of Representatives.

    When this BRAINS act is going to be introduced, Just asking this question as out of curiosity :)

  • Vickarul

    What are the universities classified as a research institution by the Director of the National Science Foundation??
    Is there a list of such institutions?

    • Anand Bora

      Raghu, could you please put some light on point number 3

      • Vickarul

        I still could not find anything much about it. Both most of the top universities have some kind of laboratory of some kind that are funded by the Fedral government come under that category. But i doubt there should be more of them.

  • saraswatk

    Do you think STEM includes MS in Management in Information Systems (MIS)?

    • sam

      Basically depends on international advisor when applying for OPT extension, but as per as the USCIS it does not include in STEM. my friends have got extension for OPT with help of international advisor and other friend got rejected from different advisor in same university.

      • sam
        • Akshay001

          Please check the revised STEM list…they have so far added Management Science in the new list…and to be believed Management (all streams) will eventually come under STEM… there is also one amendment that a student will be considered for OPT after graduating in non STEM degree like an MBA in USA, if his undergraduate degree (earned outside USA) falls under STEM category like B.Engg. for example. dunno when it will come into effect!

  • tsmart

    thanks 4 dis info.

  • Namrata

    Has this bill being signed by the president – BRAINS ACT?

    • Raghu

      Nope. Just introduced.

      • Namrata

        Hey Raghu, Do you think this will be passed by the congress in this one week. Because September session comes to an end in a weeks time..Hypothetically speaking.. when do you think this will come into effect.. My GC is filed in EB3 with PD = 2010… I have no chance in hell to get GC in coming decade!! BRAINS act could be my life saver..

        • sam

          welcome to the club, it is same politics as in any other country, introduce bills for votes before election from minority groups and after election all these bills goes to file cabinet and will be reopened for next election

  • Pranav

    This is really good for International Students :D

    4th point (mentioned above) will be helpful to get Visas without any problems when compared to the present situation I guess.

    From when this is going to be implemented? (within 2 months)

    • Raghu

      That’s the million dollar question. Right now chances are ZERO. If there is a progress, I will post the updates.