Microsoft responded that it would lay off H-1B workers as part of the job cuts but that it would continue to hire visa holders as well. And in a post on its public policy blog Monday, the software vendor renewed its argument for raising the cap.
The bill that Grassley and Durbin proposed in 2007, then called the H-1B and L-1 Visa Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, will be reintroduced with some changes, but its broad thrust is expected to remain. The earlier bill would have required employers to advertise job openings for 30 days before submitting H-1B applications for those positions. It also sought to prevent employers from hiring H-1B workers and then outsourcing them to other companies.
The return of the Grassley-Durbin bill will raise the H-1B issue again and, ironically, give proponents of a cap increase a potential opportunity to seek one. But the coupling of H-1B changes and broader immigration-reform efforts also gives supporters of the program an argument to use against piecemeal efforts to set new restrictions, Hoffman pointed out. "We just urge restraint," he said.
Although Obama has talked about the need for immigration reform, it's uncertain when or if he will push Congress to take any action. And since his election, the president hasn't said anything about H-1B matters, although he has appointed people sympathetic to the visa program to serve in key positions.
In addition, the new administration is discussing the visa issue with interested parties. Just last week, for instance, Dean Garfield, president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, said he had met with administration officials to discuss a number of issues, including the H-1B program.