Easier visa norms for skilled workers urgent to remain on top

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ITAA supports provisions of legislation that would create a market-based cap on H-1B visas and raise the floor to 115,000 annually, up from 65,000; and exempt from the cap those with advanced degrees.

New Delhi, April 14

With the US Senate unable to reach an agreement on the contentious issue of immigration reforms before its two-week Easter recess, the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) has expressed disappointment that the Senate should have delayed action on the immigration legislation, which included provisions that could make a major difference to US competitiveness.

"We believe the H-1B visa and other provisions dealing with highly skilled workers are critically important to addressing workforce demand needs and positioning the US economy for continued success over the long term. We are disappointed that action has been stalled on this important legislation," Mr Jeff Lande, ITAA Senior Vice-President, said in a statement.

Direct green cards

Mr Lande said ITAA specifically supports provisions of legislation that would create a market-based cap on H-1B visas and raise the floor to 115,000 annually, up from 65,000; and exempt from the cap those with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The proposed legislation also seeks to exempt advanced STEM degree holders who have been working in a related field in the US for a three-year period immediately preceding commencement of permanent residence, from the EB "green card" immigrant visa cap, while establishing a direct path to green cards for advanced degree graduates of US universities.

Last Friday, an agreement on the immigration reforms eluded the Senate, which had almost reached a breakthrough-of-sorts the previous day when a compromise plan was drafted.

The compromise, endorsed by leaders on both sides, would have established a path to legalisation for some of at least 11 million immigrants already in the US illegally. The revised package included enhanced border security proposals and a new guest worker programme key elements of a Bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee.. The Committee is expected to take up consider the Bill after the Senate returns from the ongoing two-week break.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 15, 2006)
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