H-1B extension stuck due to Senate Democrat’s Immigration Reform Plans
In a letter to the CEOs of Accenture, Amazon, Cisco, Deloitte, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Oracle, Durbin said an H-1B cap increase can only come as part of a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Durbin’s letter is a response to concerns from comprehensive immigration reform proponents that House Republicans, at the urging of the tech lobby, may try to push a standalone H-1B hike.
In June last year, the Senate approved a comprehensive immigration bill that raises the base 65,000 H-1B cap to 115,000. The bill also includes an escalator that can raise it to 180,000. The visa limit for advanced degree graduates of U.S. universities would rise from 20,000 to 25,000 and be restricted to STEM grads.
On the same day the Senate took its final vote on immigration reform, the House Judiciary Committee approved a standalone H-1B bill, the Skills Visa Act which would raise the base H-1B cap to 155,000, and the advanced degree cap to 40,000.
The Skills bill was approved without Democratic support, and the ability of the Republicans to get standalone legislation approved in the full House is in doubt. But even if Republicans succeed in getting something passed, Durbin is telling them that such a bill would go nowhere in the Senate.
Compete America, a major industry lobby group on immigration, earlier this month sent out a statement urging the House to approve the Skills bill. That statement seems to have angered Durbin.
The Senator thought that high tech was committed to supporting comprehensive immigration reform because the industry’s top priorities are addressed in that legislation.
Comprehensive immigration reform proponents have long believed that their path to success means linking an H-1B increase to the legalization of millions of undocumented people.
Offshore firms have been adding employees by the thousands as their revenues increase. Infosys (India based) led the list in 2013 with 6,298 visas approved, just edging out Tata (India based) which had 6258 visas approved last year. Cognizant, a New Jersey-based IT services provider with major operations overseas, led the list in 2012 but dropped to 3rd. The company had 5,186 visas in 2013 versus 9,281 visas approved in 2012 versus 5,095 in 2011.