21 November 2007

Technology Association to lobby for more US skilled visas

The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), which includes companies such as Microsoft and Dell, has hired a lobbying firm to urge the federal government in the US to offer more skilled visas to foreign workers

PLM Group, a joint venture from the Podesta and Livingston groups, has been hired by the consortium of over 300 technology firms to lobby the government on issues connected to the H-1B visa programme. The ITAA says that there is such demand for skilled immigrants that the current system needs to be extended.

The H-1B visa initiative facilitates the hiring of skilled foreign workers for up to six years, and the technology firms argue that the current limit of 65,000 a year should increase. The Associated Press notes that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) saw 150,000 applications in one day for the H-1B scheme for 2008.

The visa allows US employers to seek temporary help from skilled foreigners who have the equivalent of a US Bachelor's Degree education. H-1B employees are employed temporarily in a job category that is considered a "specialty occupation" by the US Citizenship & Immigration Service.

The need for skilled workers in the US IT industry is borne out by the fact that USCIS received over 130,000 applications from US corporations for the 2007-2008 year HB-1 quota.

Due to the high demand, in June 2007 the ITAA called for legislation to abolish what it termed "artificial and arbitrary restrictions" on highly skilled workers wanting to enter the US.

Anyone applying for an American visa should begin by taking the American Visa Bureau's online American visa application to see if they meet the basic legislative requirements.

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