Washington: An advanced degree from US universities may well prove to be a passport for a US green card, or permanent residency, if a proposal by top Democratic senators to attract the world's "best and the brightest" is accepted.
India, which sends the highest number of students to the US, stands to benefit most from the proposal by Senate majority leader Harry Reid and senators Charles Schumer and Bob Menendez.
The senators have also proposed tightening of rules for H-1B and L1 visas, coveted by Indians. H1B visas allow US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in speciality occupations for six years.
L1B allows companies operating both in the US and abroad to transfer certain classes of employees from its foreign operations to the US operations for up to seven years.
The proposals "will reform America's high-skilled immigration system to permanently attract the world's best and brightest while preventing the loss of American jobs to temporary foreign labour contractors", the three senators said.
"Foreign students will be permitted to enter the US with immigrant intent if they are a bona fide student so long as they pursue a full course of study at an institution of higher education in a field of science, technology, engineering or mathematics," they proposed.
Under the current regulations, those seeking permanent status can apply for a green card after six years of stay on an H1B visa. It may take several years after that to get the coveted card.