“Tech industry officials welcomed a bipartisan U.S. Senate immigration bill on Tuesday, saying they hoped it would make it easier to hire highly skilled workers from abroad, while laying the groundwork to renegotiate portions they oppose,” Alina Selyukh reports for Reuters. “The bipartisan ‘Gang of Eight’ group of senators released highlights of the bill, backed by President Barack Obama, that seeks to reform the immigration system and nearly doubles the quota for H-1B visas for skilled workers.”
“For months, the tech sector has ratcheted up pressure on the U.S. Congress to make highly skilled immigration rules more flexible, arguing that there are not enough highly skilled American workers to fill its growing number of specialty job openings,” Selyukh reports. “The bill did not propose raising the number of H-1B visas as high as 300,000, as big tech companies had sought in the past, but it would allow the cap to rise to as high as 180,000 in future years, and sets aside 25,000 such visas for graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math.”
“Most companies and tech groups, including the new group FWD.us formed by Facebook Inc’s Mark Zuckerberg to lobby on the issue, withheld comment awaiting a review of the full text of the bill,” Selyukh reports. “‘We’re very encouraged that they produced a bill and we see a lot of positives, but we do have some concerns we hope to see worked out,’ said Dan Turrentine, vice president for government relations at TechNet, a group representing such companies as Google Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Apple Inc. and Yahoo! Inc”
Selyukh reports, “Tech companies will be watching several provisions in the bill that risk becoming hindrances to prompt hiring, including new requirements to pay H-1B visa holders higher wages and to recruit American workers prior to hiring foreigners.”
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