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H-1B visas set to almost double

Senate panel has cleared the proposal to hike visas from 65,000 to 115,000 a year, reports S Rajagopalan.

india Updated: Mar 29, 2006 10:49 IST
S Rajagopalan
S Rajagopalan

The Senate Judiciary Committee has cleared the proposal to increase H-1B visas for foreign technologists and other professionals from 65,000 to 115,000 a year with a vote on Monday.

Though a significant development, analysts say it is only the first stage of a long process. The visa plan is a part of the omnibus and controversial Immigration Bill, which will now go before the full Senate.

US industry circles are hopeful of the Senate nod for the measure. But the real challenge, experts say, will come when the Bill will have to be reconciled with a House of Representatives version, passed in December without any provision for increase in the number of H-1B visas.

Last year, a relatively-modest plan to add 30,000 of these work visas collapsed when the House did not go along with the measure okayed by the Senate.

The latest H-1B plan, authored by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter, also provides for an automatic 20 per cent increase in these visas every year.

American tech giants have been actively lobbying for the increase. Last week, Microsoft chief Bill Gates made a rare visit to Washington to plead with lawmakers for a substantial increase on H-1B.

First Published: Mar 29, 2006 01:51 IST