Immigration: Green Card Recapture Faces Challenges in Senate

The 117th Congress continues to debate the FY22 Budget Reconciliation: Build Back Better Act; a bill that includes legislative language that impacts the higher education community. Last month, the House Judiciary Committee marked-up and passed legislative language that would allow for the recapture of unused green cards. These unused, family-based and employment-based green cards from the past three decades would be allocated to millions of people who have been waiting in the green-card backlog for decades. Similar legislative language faces an uncertain future in the Senate since Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has yet to formally review the language.

The U.S. imposes strict per-country caps on visas distributed each year, a process that keeps green card hopefuls in populous countries waiting years, while leaving a surplus of unused green cards in less populated nations. For years, the Council of Graduate Schools and the broader higher education community have supported much-needed reform to U.S. immigration policy, including reforms to the permanent residency and green card processes.

Anti-Racism in STEM

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine announced their plans to appoint a committee to review bias and racism in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workplaces. As well as approaches to increase racial and ethnic diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in STEM organizations and offer best policies and practices for DEI and anti-racism initiatives.


House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson released a statement in support of the initiative. “The recommendations that come from this study will be vitally important in helping advance our work to eliminate racism in STEM, which has done incalculable harm not just to individuals, but to our nation’s capacity to innovate. We must do everything we can to address systems that perpetuate inequities wherever they exist. That is why I requested this study last year. As Chairwoman of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, it is a key priority of mine to ensure that people of all backgrounds are free to pursue careers in STEM fields, and this study can play an important role in making such a future possible for all our young people”, said Chairwoman Johnson.

Free Speech and Studying Abroad

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education recently released a report analyzing college policies on speech and political participation by students studying abroad. The report found that some U.S. colleges and universities sharply limit students’ overseas speech while others provide U.S. Department of State resources concerning student travel and warnings about the risks of engaging in speech or protest abroad.


The report recommends ensuring students understand the expressive challenges they may face abroad, especially if those universities prioritize freedom of expression in the United States. The report also recommends colleges and universities do more to ensure necessary information is readily available to students.

Student Financial Aid: TEACH Grants

On Wednesday, October 13, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Consider Teachers Act of 2021 into law. This new law “revises the service obligation verification process for the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant program.” This newly enacted law “provides a process for the Department of Education to reconsider and reverse the conversion of a TEACH grant to a loan. The bill also establishes certain program flexibilities with respect to the service obligations of teachers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.” The TEACH Grant Program provides grants of up to $4,000 a year to students who are completing or plan to complete course work needed to begin a career in teaching.

2021 Nobel Laureates in Science Announced

This past week, the Nobel Assembly announced the 2021 Nobel Prize recipients. Six awards are given every year for prizes in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, economic sciences, literature, and peace. This year’s award recipients for physics (Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann, and Giorgio Parisi), physiology or medicine (David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian), and economic sciences (David Card, Joshua D. Angrist, and Guido W. Imbens) are researchers who have been supported by the National Science Foundation.


NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan stated in a press release, “For 70 years, NSF’s investments in exploratory research have expanded the frontiers of knowledge and technology and supported both foundational, curiosity-driven, discovery-oriented research and use-inspired, solutions-oriented work. The impact of our support is reflected by the 253 NSF-funded Nobel Prize winners. As we adapt to the nation’s changing needs, NSF will always remain dedicated to our core mission of investing in the whole-range of fundamental science and engineering and STEM education.”