Home News H-1B visa expansion gets Obama approval
H-1B visa expansion gets Obama approval PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 30 January 2013 17:46

Updated 11:03 pm, Tuesday, January 29, 2013





The tech industry, one of the most powerful players in the immigration debate, threw down its marker Tuesday with a bipartisan bill to increase H-1B visas for skilled workers from 65,000 to 115,000 a year, and possibly as many as 300,000 a year.

Silicon Valley has been chafing under H-1B limits since the last comprehensive bill collapsed in 2006. Despite support from California House Democrats Anna Eshoo of Palo Alto and Zoe Lofgren of San Jose, the effort has been stymied by resistance from some U.S. tech workers and opponents in Congress who say the industry just wants cheap labor.

President Obama gave a plug to the tech side in a speech Tuesday in Las Vegas.

'Fields of the future'

"Right now, there are brilliant students from all over the world sitting in classrooms at our top universities," he said. "They're earning degrees in the fields of the future, like engineering and computer science.

"We're giving them all the skills they need to figure that out, but then we're going to turn around and tell them to start that business and create those jobs in China or India or Mexico or someplace else," Obama added. "That's not how you grow new industries in America."

The bill, called the Immigration Innovation Act, would exempt dependents of employment-based visa holders, advanced degree holders in science, technology, engineering and math, "persons with extraordinary ability" and "outstanding professors and researchers."

Authors say the bill is critical to U.S. competitiveness in the global economy. In addition to increasing H-1B visas to 115,000 a year, the bill would create an automatic escalator "so that the cap can adjust - up or down - to the demands of the economy," with a total ceiling of 300,000.

Depending on how quickly the annual limit is reached, an additional 20,000 visas could be made available immediately.

Farmworker slots

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., will push for expanded temporary slots for farmworkers who are essential to California's produce industry. The bipartisan Senate framework introduced Monday by the Gang of Eight - four Democratic and four Republican senators - has placeholders for tech and farmworkers.

Also on Tuesday, President Obama endorsed inclusion of binational same-sex couples in his immigration framework, in contrast to Monday's bipartisan Senate framework, which omitted mention of gays and lesbians.

Obama did not mention binationals in his Las Vegas speech but they were included in the fact sheet, endorsing reform that "treats same-sex families as families by giving U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner."

Currently, married gay and lesbian couples with one partner a U.S. citizen and the other a foreigner are banned under the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act from the spousal immigration preference given to straight couples.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/H-1B-visa-expansion-gets-Obama-approval-4234286.php#ixzz2JV7e24Bj

Share this page
User Rating: / 0

Subscribe To Our Bulletin