Tags: immigration | jobs | visa | senate

Immigration Provisions Target High-Skilled Workers

By    |   Wednesday, 17 April 2013 11:04 AM

The Senate’s immigration reform package includes new provisions to attract highly-skilled and educated workers to the U.S. by significantly increasing the number of H1-B visas and introducing a new start-up visa program for foreign entrepreneurs.

The provisions in the bill, crafted by a bipartisan group of eight senators, are intended to boost economic growth by welcoming entrepreneurs while bridging the growing skills gap in math and science, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

“These are complicated issues, and the fact that they came up with a package that deals with immigration in a comprehensive fashion, and the fact that it includes a start-up visa provision and substantial modifications to the H-1B program – that’s encouraging,” Steve Case, head of the investment firm Revolution LLC and a member of President Barack Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, told the Post.

The measure would reportedly raise the annual cap on H-1B visa from its current level of 65,000 to 110,000, the Post noted. It would also offer up to 10,000 visa under the new foreign-born entrepreneur program to immigrants who, the Post reported "create at least five jobs and raise at least $500,000 from angel investors, venture capitalists or other investment groups."

More details about the proposals were expected to be released Wednesday at a Capitol Hill press conference by the bill's chief sponsors.

Critics of the measure, however, argue that the skills gap is overstated. They are also worried that an influx of skilled workers could drive down wages for American workers or replace them altogether.

Sensitive to those concerns, the bill’s authors wrote in a requirement that employers pay higher wages to H-1B workers. The bill calls for charging companies additional fees if they employ more than 30 percent of H-1B workers, the Post noted.

The bill also requires firms to keep a close check on the citizenship status of all employees using an online program run by the government that keeps track of worker eligibility documents.

The 844-page immigration reform bill will be debated in the Senate over the coming weeks. The House is expected to introduce its own reform package.

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The Senate's immigration reform package includes new provisions to attract highly-skilled and educated workers to the U.S.
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 11:04 AM
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