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New US bill could expand H-1B program

Friday, January 26, 2018

Two Republican senators have launched a bill which, if approved, would expand the annual quota of those being granted the controversial H-1B visa – used heavily by tech and outsourcing companies to bring skilled foreign workers into the USA - by 20,000 to a total of 85,000 per year.

Among other aims, the bill would make it easier for spouses and children of H-1B holders to work in the US; would add a “market-based escalator” further increasing the number of visas available by 111,000 to meet market demand; and would remove country limits for the Green Card system (of particular interest to countries such as India and China with a large number of citizens currently caught in a backlog). 

The bill, introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch and Jeff Flake, comes only days after the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that it was not planning any changes to the visa regime which would result in visa holders being forced to leave the country; this statement was made following reports that President Trump was seeking to restructure the H-1B programme in a way which could see up to 750,000 workers being removed.

Tech industry analysts and executives have reacted warmly to the bill, with Dean Garfield, the CEO of the Information Technology Investment Council, saying that the bill helps “meet the needs of our economy, drive new investment, and bolster the tech industry’s commitment to growing the domestic workforce”.

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