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H-1B Visa: Important Part of Immigration Reform

H-1B Visa & Immigration Reform

Immigrant-rights organizations, faith groups and several other unions are now urging the US Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform legislation and fix America’s immigration system that is broken.

Few months back, the US Senate debated on and passed a comprehensive bill that was drafted by the Gang of Eight. This bill would benefit the country’s undocumented immigrants by putting them on a path to US citizenship. At the same time, it would strengthen border security and secure jobs for the Americans as well as the skilled foreign workers.

The House Republicans must now debate on this bill and approve it. Various reports show that the Americans now support a path to US citizenship. AFT, the American Federation of Teachers, that has now joined the Alliance for Citizenship, AFL-CIO and the other immigrant-rights groups, is paying close attention to the provisions related to H-1B visas in the immigration reform bill.

The bill, that is now awaiting action in the House, would expand the H-1B visa program. This visa program currently allows US employers to hire foreign workers on H-1B visas. Only 85,000 H-1B visas are currently made available every year. US employers say that these visas are insufficient and are urging the lawmakers so expand this program. Technology companies in America lack highly-skilled workers and are struggling to find suitable workers.

If the Senate bill is passed, the H-1B visa cap would increase to a number between 110,000 and 180,000. This bill would require the US employers, who seek to hire foreign workers, to document a shortage of US workers prior to hiring foreign workers. Only if they are unable to find suitable workers in the United States, would they be permitted to hire foreign workers under this H-1B program.

AFT President Randi Weingarten, in a letter to the Senators said that the H-1B program must be expanded. At the same time, preference must be given to the qualified American workers and they must not be replaced by H-1B workers.

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