Provision to Add High-Tech Visas Gets Dropped From Budget Bill

Erica Werner, AP, Dec. 20, 2005

WASHINGTON—A Senate-passed measure to add more visas for foreign workers in high-tech and specialty fields was dropped from a budget bill that passed the House early Monday, disappointing high-tech and manufacturing firms in search of skilled workers.

The Senate plan would have allowed 30,000 more of the popular H1-B visas each year and would have increased fees for those visas to help trim the budget deficit. Congress capped the six-year H-1B visas at 65,000 per year in 2004, and that cap has already been reached for the 2006 fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

The Senate language also would have allowed 90,000 more employment-based green cards that offer permanent residency to skilled workers, and added fees for those.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates urged the Bush administration and lawmakers in April to abolish immigration limits on foreign engineers who can be hired by U.S. companies.

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