Immigration bill best chance to boost H-1B visas
Kent Hoover Washington Bureau Chief
Despite the Senate’s failure to act on sweeping immigration legislation, the technology industry still sees comprehensive reform as the best way to get more H-1B visas for foreign engineers and computer programmers, and to reduce the backlog for green cards.
Negotiations were under way to address these issues when the Senate — at least temporarily — dropped consideration of its immigration bill because of disagreements over how many amendments should be considered.
“We were actually heartened by the progress made,” said James Ratchford, a spokesman for the Information Technology Industry Council. “We’re more confident now it would be part of a comprehensive bill.”
Demand for H-1B visas, which allow highly skilled foreigners to work in the United States for six years, dramatically exceeds supply. The federal government received 150,000 petitions for fiscal 2008’s allotment of 65,000 H-1B visas on the first day it accepted applications.