The US labor force, like the labor forces of most nations, suffers from a chronic shortage of STEM-trained workers and entrepreneurs. The word “shortage” is perhaps misleading, however, since no amount of STEM-trained entrepreneurs will ever be enough — more is always better. The proposed new STEM visa, if it is actually implemented, could represent one of the greatest innovations in immigration law ever conceived of.
One way in which a STEM visa would differ from the H-1B visa is green card availability. Although H-1B visa holders are allowed to apply for green cards, the H-1B itself does not lead to permanent residence. Most H-1B applicants seeking green cards apply under the EB visa program, which is plagued with low quotas and long backlogs.
By contrast, under the proposed STEM visa, a worker would be able to obtain a green card directly from STEM visa status. In addition, under current proposals any STEM visa quota would not be subtracted from the numbers available for other types of visas such as the H-1B, but would add to the total number of skilled workers who are eligible to enter the US.