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Senate Bill Would Raise Cap on H-1B Visas

A bipartisan Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and high-profile co-sponsors such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has run into opposition from Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

The bill, sponsored by nine senators, aims to dramatically increase the number of high-skilled visas issued by the federal government. Grassley said that the bill doesn’t close loopholes or prevent abuse.

He explained how the system was initially meant to be complementary, but only increases our supply of cheaper foreign labor.

At a hearing on Tuesday, Grassley made it clear that the bill would only worsen the problem.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who is known for being a vocal opponent of comprehensive immigration reform, said that the visa program is being greatly abused.

In the battle over increasing the numbers of highly skilled visas (H-1B), the technology sector has a large stake in the matter, and supports the idea of increasing the cap. Understandable since the majority of high-skilled visas are doled out to people who work in the computer industry.

Todd Schulte, the president of FWD.us, an immigration advocacy group founded by Mark Zuckerberg, said in a statement that it’s a false choice that we can’t protect American workers, and create an improved system that allows companies to have access to the best talent in the world.

If the bill is passed, it would raise the limit on H-1B visas to 115,000, up from 65,000, and that number could increase depending on the economic conditions.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), who is not a co-sponsor, said that he encouraged the proposal and felt that sending foreign students home after they graduate is foolish.

Grassley is seeking language that would require American companies to first recruit American workers before seeking foreign labor. He is seeking random audits on the companies who utilize the program, and more oversight.

Grassley and other critics of the bill recently shifted their focus to Southern California Edison, who is accused of laying off hundreds of IT workers in the U.S. and sending their jobs to overseas workers.

A significant portion of the hearing consisted of debates over facts, including whether the U.S. is experiencing a shortage of high-skilled workers and whether visa holders are in practice, paid less than American workers.

Are you interested in an H-1B visa for yourself, or for a future employee who is currently overseas? If so, contact a Dallas immigration attorney from the Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC!