November 22, 2004 12:01 PM PST

Bill adds 20,000 H-1B visas

Up to 20,000 more guest worker visas will be available annually to foreigners who earn advanced degrees in the United States, under a bill passed by Congress this weekend.

In a catch-all spending bill, Congress agreed to a number of changes to the controversial H-1B and L-1 visa programs. President Bush on Saturday said he plans to sign the legislation.

Among the visa program changes in the bill are a requirement that companies attest that an H-1B worker will not displace a U.S. worker and a $500 "antifraud" fee tied to visa applications. In addition, up to 20,000 foreigners who earn a master's degree or higher from a U.S. institution will not be counted toward the annual cap of 65,000 new H-1B visas.

Businesses have pushed for such a change. The government announced on Oct. 1, the first day of the 2005 federal fiscal year, that that year's limit had already been reached.

"Granting this exemption puts America first by giving U.S. employers access to this talent and giving U.S. taxpayers a bigger return on the tax dollars they invest every year in U.S. institutions of higher learning," Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America trade group, said in a statement Monday. "Foreign students make up 50 percent or more of attendance in many advanced math, science and engineering programs. Forcing foreign students to return home after earning their advanced degrees sends that public investment packing."

H-1B visas, which allow skilled foreign workers to work in the United States for up to six years, have frequently been used by technology companies. Exemptions to the cap already exist for institutions of higher education, nonprofit research groups and governmental research organizations. L-1 visas allow companies to temporarily bring in employees from other countries for managerial or executive work, or for work that entails specialized knowledge.

Both varieties of visas have been accused of hurting U.S. workers.

Technology worker advocates had hoped to prevent the passage of the H-1B exemption in the bill. On Friday, the U.S. wing of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers released a statement saying the number of unemployed U.S. high-tech professionals has shrunk this year, mirroring a drop in the H-1B visa cap.

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Job Stealing from Americans
Yeah, it's that simple. For those companies who are willing, they can get cheap high-tech workers for way less than they'd pay any American. I've seen those ads for someone with a Masters who will work for what might be slightly above poverty wages. They will get no Americans answering the ad, but can get dozens of Asians or Europeans wanting to get into the USA who are willing to be indentured slaves. Then the company can say, "Hey, no American wants this job."

I'm just glad I work for an aerospace company that requires people with security clearances. For now, no H1-B could take my job. I'm waiting for the day when H1-B people can get a DOD clearance so I can retire.
Posted by Crunchy Doodle (41 comments )
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Security Clearance
They recently discovered that a prime contractor for the Oak Ridge Nuclear Lab in Tenn. hired a bunch of illegals.

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Posted by jmaximus9 (86 comments )
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Right on target
Your comments portray the situation precisely. I would only add that the foreigners who are being pursued, and who take these jobs, may have the required degrees; however, my experience is that these individuals do not have sufficient communication skills nor an adequate sense of American job culture, and my experiences with them have ranged from negative to downright frustrating. I believe I could take any US born citizen off the street and train them in 6 months to perform more efficiently than a foreigner with a Masters Degree (any field).
Posted by bockmon (5 comments )
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no of foreigners from US universities applying for H1 per year ?
Does anyone know how many foreigners with masters or higher degrees from US universities, apply for H1 B visa per year ? I am just trying to understand if exempting thses people really makes a difference for them (masters or higher degree holders) ?
Thanx.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Reply
I thought people with student visa were allowed to work on year after school in the US. I also thought it was fairly wasy to sponsor a Green Card for a student. Because of this, I have always viewed the H1-B visa is a way for employers to chew up and spit out people. Also, it is fairly easy to immgrate to the U.S. as a learned professional, but for some reason, all of the technical people go the same route as everybody else. Something tells me that there are strings attached with this route.
I think a simple way to stop the H1-B visa abuse is to make them cost $50,000, which is nothing for a company. If an employer really needs a person, we then say okay, but you basically have just created a 4 year scholarship in the technical fields for a native. The funds should go directly for Associates, Bachelors, and Master scholarships.
Posted by Tony_I (5 comments )
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How much does a better bottom-line cost?
This country has spent a immeasurable amount of money and blood to protect it from enemies within and without, but continues to kill its own working class because of single-minded, money-hungry, cut-throat corporations who intend to drive this economy to ruins all to save their bottom line. My computer programming job was outsourced to India 7/25/2003. My manager thought no more about me than, I quote, Buying a foreign car. Over 400 applications later and I still cant find suitable employment. How is the government going attest that an H-1B worker will not displace a U.S. worker? The government has never cared how many Americans are losing their jobs to outsourcing. They dont even know how many American jobs are being outsourced. We have to make a change.
Posted by stephenrgentry (2 comments )
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Something is not right
If you a person who does not need work permit (H1) cannot find a job in such a long period of time while I, a person who does need H1 has several employers chasing me from all over the country (edges and coasts only).

You didn't get into computers after 1998 by any chance? Do you have a masters degree in computer science? Do have domain expertise in critical fields like bio-informatics, finance or healthcare? What is it that you have (or don't have) to offer to employers that is making it difficult for you to land a job?

Sincerely,
A potential H1B
Posted by (4 comments )
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They Won't!
They will enforce this law about as forcefully as keep illegal immigrants out of the country. At last report there is an est. 20,000,000 illegals living in the US.

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Posted by jmaximus9 (86 comments )
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Better Times Must Come
Stephen,
All your points are well-taken. As an amateur philosopher and economic historian, I can say that Things Will Change. During times of prosperity, the rich and large corporations (paper entities) dominate. In America, we have been in a period of illusionary prosperity for decades. The powers that be have juggled the facts and changed the criteria for economic data for so long, that it must eventually come into balance. My guess is that it will begin with Alan Greenspan's retirement, which is soon.

A lot of economic suffering is ahead of us, but the tide will turn as the rich and powerful lose their money and influence, leaving "the people" to pick up the pieces, abolish the policies that have destroyed our economy, and rebuild our nation on solid principles. I only hope we're up to the task.
Posted by bockmon (5 comments )
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Is the problem at the University level?
The article states that "Foreign students make up 50 percent or more of attendance in many advanced math, science and engineering programs." Perhaps this is where the problem begins? I also agree that $500 is not much of a dis-incentive for most companies. And how in the world will companies be able to prove they are not displacing a US worker? This seems like MORE government regulation and paperwork.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Go where the money is.
Americans aren't going to take classes in droves for subjects that have little hope of getting a job in that field. This why computer classes are way down in attendance. People look in the help wanted sections of the papers and see few if any IT jobs. In my local paper's help wanted section, there used to be a whole page of computer/networking jobs. Now there is one maybe two columns.

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Posted by jmaximus9 (86 comments )
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Fraud Report - H1B visa
In the story it says [http://"Among the visa program changes in the bill are a requirement that companies attest that an H-1B worker will not displace a U.S. worker and a $500 "antifraud" fee tied to visa applications."|http://"Among the visa program changes in the bill are a requirement that companies attest that an H-1B worker will not displace a U.S. worker and a $500 "antifraud" fee tied to visa applications."] this is really just paying lip service to pissed off IT workers who lost their jobs. There is a law against hiring illegal immigrants too, look how well they inforce that. They just put that in there for political gain, but have zero, zip, nada intentions on enforcing it. Bush and the republicrats are destroying the middle class and America.

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Posted by jmaximus9 (86 comments )
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