The effort in Congress to make it easier for tech companies to hire foreign nationals gained support Thursday from two U.S. senators who are pushing a bill to give foreign nationals who earn advanced degrees in the U.S. permanent residency.
The latest measure comes as one large tech employer, Google, complained, publicly, that 90 of its 300 H-1B applications were rejected in the government lottery for visas. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) held a lottery after receiving 163,000 applications for 85,000 visas. That figure includes 20,000 visas set aside for advanced degree holders.
[ InfoWorld editor at large Ephraim Schwartz stands as an eyewitness to H-1B scammers. ]
The Senate legislation, unveiled Thursday by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), will allow foreign national graduates of U.S. universities to receive Green Cards, or permanent resident status -- as long as they have a job offer.
Details about the legislation were not immediately available, but the Senate measure is a companion bill to legislation already introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives (HR 6039 by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, (D-Calif.), a spokesman for Boxer's office said Thursday.
These two bills would exempt STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) advanced degree graduates from the annual 140,000-person limit on permanent residency, employer-based visas.
"Ensuring that the U.S. is competitive in technology means making sure that future innovators are putting their knowledge to work here, not competing against us abroad," said Boxer, in a in a statement. "The best way to do that is to offer Green Cards to those foreign graduates with career opportunities in the U.S."
Although there is bipartisan support for increasing the H-1B visa cap, those efforts have been stymied by the legislative deadlock over broader immigration reform. As a result, supporters are focusing on the Green Card limits and advanced degree holders, where presumably they can make the strongest case for keeping these workers in the U.S.
Keith Wolfe, Google's global mobility manager and Pablo Chavez, its senior policy counsel, provided some insight Thursday on the company's public policy blog about its experiences with the H-1B cap.
Google submitted 300 H-1B applications this year, "and we're sorry to report that 90 hopefuls were denied," they wrote on the blog.