On January 13, 2015, a bipartisan group of Senators, Orin Hatch (R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), co-sponsored a bill that could alleviate the pangs of the high-tech industry. Each year U.S. companies compete heavily for foreign nationals with advanced degrees in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), an area of the market where the number of jobs far exceeds the number of qualified applicants. To employ these high-skilled professionals, a company must sponsor an H-1B visa. Yet the number of visas available for these professionals is limited by the H-1B visa lottery, leaving many companies without the benefit of qualified employees necessary to compete in the market.
Currently, the H-1B Cap is set at 85,000 visas for foreign professionals permitted to work for U.S. companies for a term of years. The bill would increase the H-1B Cap to 115,000 visas and would allow the H-1B Cap to increase to 195,000 incrementally based on the level of demand for high-skilled workers in that particular year. I-Squared also provides work authorization for the spouses of these H-1B visa holders. Of equal importance, the bill would re-issue green card numbers that went unused in years previous, a move that could potentially clear the green card processing backlog for foreign nationals who have waited years to receive a green card, especially those from India and China. Finally, the bill allows for F1 Student visa holders to petition for a green card without jeopardizing student status eligibility.
Should the bill pass both the House and Senate in Congress, President Obama would likely sign it into law. Passage of this bill would provide a critical component for U.S. companies to maintain an economic advantage and competitive edge in the global economy. It would also ensure significant future job creation in the United States.