Lawmakers Propose Another H-1B Visa Bill

WASHINGTON (03/16/2000) - Another bill to increase the number of H-1B visas issued by the United States has been proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill would raise the limit on the number of H-1B visas issued by the U.S.

Immigration and Naturalization Service to 200,000 next year and in 2002 and 2003, according to a statement issued yesterday by Representative Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California.

Congress revised the H-1B visa program in 1998, making 115,000 H-1B visas available in the current fiscal year and 107,500 available next year. But in 2002 the number of H-1B visas would drop back to the original limit of 65,000 under the current limitations.

U.S. high-technology companies have said that number of visas isn't sufficient and have urged Congress to again take action on the issue to ensure a steady flow of foreign workers, which the companies say they must recruit in order to fill all their technical positions.

Lofgren said in addition to meeting the needs of high-technology companies, the newly proposed bill includes provisions to improve education in science and technology in the U.S. so that there will be more home-grown workers to fill the ranks of the future high-tech labor force.

The bill, which will be assigned to the Judiciary committee, also includes provisions that would channel hundreds of millions of dollars into education and training programs for American children and workers, Lofgren said in the release.

The bill also would reserve 70,000 visas for applicants with a masters degree or higher and would increase the fee for applying for an H-1B visa from US$500 to $1,000.

The bill will compete with other proposals in the House that also call for increases in the number of H-1B visas. In the Senate, the Judiciary Committee last week passed a bill that would raise the cap on H-1B visas to 195,000. [See "Committee Passes H-1B Visa Legislation," March 9.]

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