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Shaheen co-sponsors bill to help 'highly-skilled' immigrants

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on Tuesday joined a bipartisan group of senators cosponsoring a bill to increse the number of visas and green cards available for "highly-skilled workers in science and technology."


The Immigration Innovation Act, also referred to as the I-Squared Act of 2013, has the backing of businesses and business advocacy groups, Shaheen's office said.


"New Hampshire is one of the country's greatest incubators for science and technology and I'm pleased to introduce the I-Squared Bill to ensure our state has the workforce to continue the innovation essential to New Hampshire's economy," Shaheen said.


The New Hampshire Democrat is an original cosponsor of a bipartisan effort led by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah along with Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Chris Coons, D-Del.


According to Shaheen, the legislation aims to increase the number of visas and green cards available for highly skilled workers in the science and technology fields and for foreign students graduating from American universities with science and technology degrees.


"The I-Squared Bill will also increase funding for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education throughout the United States by raising application fees for employment-based visas and green cards," according to a statement from Shaheen's office.


Shaheen's office said that as a long-time supporter of STEM education, she plans to re-introduce her Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program that will provide resources for states and schools to participate in non-traditional STEM education programs.


"Individuals with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are critical to U.S. competitiveness and should be given priority for permanent resident status," wrote leadership from Texas Instruments in a letter of support.


Texas Instruments employs nearly 150 New Hampshire residents at its Manchester facility.


"We are pleased to support the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013, which recognizes the importance of highly educated foreign professionals to U.S. competitiveness while also investing in U.S. education and training," Texas Instruments wrote.

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