Immigration bill best chance to boost H-1B visas

Via BizJournals
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.

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