Senate OKs Additional Visas

The U.S. Senate last week voted to increase the number of H-1B visas issued in the next three years by nearly 300,000. These are temporary visas issued to foreign workers who come to work in the U.S. The U.S. House of Representatives and the president must approve the bill for it to become law. The bill will raise the cap on H-1B visas for each of the next three fiscal years. Currently, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service issues 115,000 such visas per year, but under the new law, it could issue an additional 85,000 in the year 2000, 87,500 in 2001 and 130,000 in 2002. The bill also increases the portability of the visas. Previously, holders of H-1B visas could not legally change jobs. The new act removes this restriction and also lets visa holders remain in the U.S. during visa hearings, instead of being immediately deported to their home countries.