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US may ease entry for overseas hi-tech workers

Congressmen are pushing a plan to circumvent the 65,000 cap on H-1B temporary worker visas.

business Updated: Oct 27, 2003 20:32 IST

Proposals to allow more hi-tech foreign workers into the US are gaining ground in Congress despite assertions by labour and anti-immigrant lobbies that plenty of Americans are available to fill the jobs.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Republican Senator Orin Hatch is pushing a plan to circumvent the 65,000 cap on H-1B temporary worker visas, under which large numbers of Indian and other foreign hi-tech workers are employed in the US, by expanding exemptions, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday quoting Senate aides familiar with the talks.

The talks mark the first time influential Senators are pressing for a temporary increase in the limit. While it is unclear the effort will succeed, Hatch's effort paves the way for a full airing of visa-overhaul legislation that has already been introduced and will likely be considered after January, the paper said.

The last-minute effort to modify the visa rules as the Congressional session winds down has been prompted by a growing concern among US multinationals and hi-tech companies that the current cap will prevent thousands of expert foreign workers (needed by US business and industry) from entering the US next year.

First Published: Oct 27, 2003 20:15 IST