President George W. Bush, who is touring the country as part of a weeks-long campaign to promote his 2006 agenda, called on Congress yesterday to raise the number of visas that allow companies to fill high-tech jobs with foreign workers.
‘The problem is. . . that Congress has limited the number of H-1B visas,’ Mr Bush said, referring to the name of the official passport endorsement. ‘I think it’s a mistake not to encourage more really bright folks who can fill the jobs that are having trouble being filled in America, to limit their number. So I call upon Congress to be realistic and reasonable to raise that cap.’
The H-1B visa, which allows US employers to have access to highly educated foreign professionals, many of whom work in scientific research, medicine and technology, has been a point of contention between business and government over the past two years. High-tech industries battling talent shortages blame the visa programme’s low cap on approved new workers.
In 1990—the year it took effect—the cap was set at 65,000. That number was progressively raised by Congress during the technology boom and hit an all-time high for fiscal years 2001 through to 2003, at 195,000. In 2004, however, the cap dropped back to 65,000 and has stayed there since.