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Now, Bush seeks more Indians

US President has urged the Congress to raise the number of H-1B visas, reports S Rajagopalan.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2006 01:42 IST
S. Rajagopalan
S. Rajagopalan

Indian techies waiting to live the American dream can cheer up, for they now have a cheer leader in US President George W Bush.

On Thursday, Bush asked the US Congress to raise the H-1B visa cap so that “really bright folks” from abroad could take up American jobs and help the US retain its competitive edge.

Indian professionals have been the principal beneficiaries of the H-1B visa programme down the years, often snapping up close to half of these coveted work visas.

Expanding on his latest theme of American competitiveness, Bush felt it was a wrong strategy to limit the number of H-1B visas for talented engineers and scientists from abroad. The cap was lowered to 65,000 visas in the financial year 2004, down from 195,000.

“I think it is a mistake not to encourage more really bright folks who can fill the jobs that are having trouble being filled here in America — to limit their number. And so I call upon Congress to be realistic and reasonable and raise that cap,” the President said in a speech in Minnesota.

Bush’s remarks follow the collapse of an industry-sponsored plan to raise the H-1B cap by 30,000 visas. That happened in December, when the House of Representatives refused to go along with the Senate-approved increase.

After Bush’s address, officials said that the present number of 65,000 was too low and it needed to be “bumped up”. Increases ranging from 10,000 to 40,000 have been talked of. “We will work with Congress on that,” aide to the President, Claude Allen, said.

Bush once again touched on the new competition from rising global economies like India and China, but said Americans need not fear it. “It is important for us not to lose our confidence in changing times; it is important for us not to fear competition, but welcome it,” he said.

As part of the competitive thrust, President Bush also asked Congress to make tax incentives permanent, saying that countries like India, China, Japan, Korea and Canada all offer tax incentives that are permanent.

“We live in a competitive world. We want to be the leader in this world,” Bush said.

First Published: Feb 03, 2006 08:56 IST