Feb. 27, 2013, Louisville, KY- A variety of Americans and special interests groups across the country are hungry for immigration reform, especially educators and employers. University presidents from Louisville and the rest of the state jumped into the debate by sending a letter to state lawmakers urging them to support immigration reform.

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University of Louisville President James Ramsey joined presidents from at least 6 statewide universities, including Northern Kentucky and University of Kentucky sent a letter to Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell asking them to support work and education visa reform, emphasizing that acting quickly is important, according to WDRB.

The presidents wrote in their letter, “”As we send away highly skilled workers trained at Kentucky and other American universities, competing international economies are welcoming these scientists and engineers,” WDRB reported.

The president highlighted the need to speed up the permanent residency visa process. Each year a limited number of highly-skilled and student visas along with green cards, also known as permanent residency, are awarded. Students are skilled workers around the world wait for years before they can legally enter Kentucky or other states.

Immigrants are essential to the economies of many states since they frequently open up their own businesses and employ large numbers of people. The long wait for a visa comes at a great cost to the American economy.

“Low limits on visas leave immigrants with no way to stay or facing untenable delays for a permanent visa. Top engineers from India and China face wait times of up to 9 years to get a permanent visa, and new applicants from these countries may face considerably longer waits,” the letter said.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Washington have been vocal about the need to change the visa rules. Many have called for increasing the number of skilled immigrant visas—called STEM visas for science, technology, engineering and math– that are awarded each year.

There is also talk of revamping temporary work visa system to meet the seasonal needs of businesses, such as the agricultural and hospitality industries.

In addition to changing the visa system, an immigration reform package would also help many otherwise law-abiding immigrants avoid deportation.

Kentucky Senators Paul and McConnell have previously stated they are in favor of immigration visa reform, though they don’t favor a pathway to citizenship which many lawmakers insist must be included in a reform package. Reform talks are ongoing, but it may hit a snag because Republican lawmakers won’t approve any plan until they feel the border is secure; determining this may prove difficult as no metrics have established to determine actual border security.

While lawmakers negotiate for reform, immigrants can’t put their lives on hold and must continue to work within the existing system. Louisville immigration attorney, Rusty O’Brien can help immigrants obtain a variety of visas, green cards and citizenship. Mr. O’Brien has practiced immigration law for at least a decade and has helped many with their deportation defense.

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