The hightech industry hails the vote to increase the number of H1B visas issued over the next three years by nearly 300,000
The House followed the Senate on Tuesday, approving a measure that would
increase the number of H-1B visas issued to foreign workers, a move seen
as helping the shortage of skilled information technology workers.
The House approved the same bill that made it through the Senate and will
go directly to President Clinton, who must sign it into law before it takes
H-1B visas are temporary visas issued to foreign workers who come to the
United States to work for a six-year term.
The high-tech industry has been hindered by worker shortages, and this bill
goes a long way toward relieving those shortages, said Marc Brailov, the
public communications director for the American Electronics Association,
an industry trade group.
By a voice vote, the House approved the American Competitiveness in the
21st Century Act of 2000 (S. 2045), which amends the Immigration and Nationality
Act. The bill raises the number of visas issued by the Immigration and
Naturalization Service from
115,000 annually to 195,000 each year for fiscal years 2001-03.
The Senate earlier in the day approved the bill 96-1, with Fritz Hollings
(D-S.C.) casting the dissenting vote. Democrats Dianne Feinstein of California,
Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut did
"This is one short-term answer to our needs," said Rep. Lloyd Daggett (D-Texas).
"We have a serious problem with unemployment being at an all-time low [and]
getting the workers we need."
High-tech industries had pushed for the passage of the bill because they
say they cannot find enough qualified Americans to fill their employment
Passing the bill "is a vote for keeping the U.S. at the forefront of the
global economy," said Bob Cohen, the senior vice president of the Information
Technology Association of America, another trade group that had been pushing
for the bill.
Also included in the bill are several programs designed to appease those
who complain that jobs are being taken away from Americans. The bill directs
the National Science Foundation to conduct a study of the digital divide
and report to Congress within 18 months. It also allots funds to NSF to
fund programs in elementary and high schools in math, science and technology
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