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The H1B Visa Program

Updated June 4, 2003


Issue:

The supply of skilled workers is a primary concern of our industry. Prior to the current economic slowdown, Massachusetts’ employers found it difficult to recruit enough professionals to fill their jobs. One of the reasons for this difficulty is that the number of American students graduating from U.S. universities with degrees in math, science, engineering and other technical disciplines has been declining for many years.

One short-term way to address this difficulty has been through the H1B Visa program. Although our industry has made extensive efforts to train qualified U.S. workers before incurring the substantial expense and complexity of hiring foreign workers, technology companies hired 60% of H1B visa holders in 2001, according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Governmental Activity:
  • In 1990, Congress imposed a permanent 65,000 cap on the number of H1B visas issued on an annual basis.
  • In 2000, Congress enacted legislation that temporarily increased the number of H1B visas annually granted to 195,000 through 2003, and increased the fee for an H1B visa to $1,000.
  • The increased fee for each visa has been used for education and training programs aimed at improving the math and science skills of U.S. students.

Software Council Position:

  • During periods of extreme labor shortages, the Council has supported a temporary increase in the number of H1B visas
  • In light of the current economic slowdown, there is no need at this time to extend the temporary number of H1B visas.
Software Council Activity:

The Council has worked closely with Senator Edward Kennedy and other Members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation to address workforce issues through education and training programs and through improvements to the H1B visa program. Senator Kennedy played a leadership role in brokering the legislation that extended the temporary cap, and he secured a portion of the visa fee to fund math and science training programs.
 

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