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USA: "Michigan Profile: Tooling Industry" report

USA: "Michigan Profile: Tooling Industry" report. 10-Page report by MEDC.

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back to index backAMERItalk February,  2005

Another H-1B visa battle coming?

An omnibus bill approved by President Bush last month expands the H-1B visa program's current annual cap of 65,000 workers by granting an exemption for up to 20,000 foreigners earning graduate degrees at U.S. schools, a move that critics are opposed to.

Vin O'Neill with the U.S. branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) argues that over 40,000 additional guest workers could be brought in this year thanks to cap exemptions, warning that "The greater the supply, the more leverage the employer has to drive down wages."

IEEE-USA defends the lower visa cap by citing Labor Department data indicating that the average number of unemployed American workers in such high-tech job categories as database administrators and computer programmers fell significantly last year.

H-1B supporters claim exemptions are necessary, given the fact that this year's cap was reached on the first day of the current fiscal year; indeed, some backers suggest that raising or eliminating the visa ceiling may be a sensible move. Information Technology Association of America President Harris Miller says the latest cap exemption will help keep talented foreign workers in the United States.

He also says guest workers can help U.S. companies sell products in foreign markets.

Meanwhile, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) recently hinted at plans to introduce legislation requiring all employers applying for H-1B visas to look for qualified domestic employees first. One recent revision to the H-1B program's rules supposedly requires companies to attest that American workers will not be displaced by visa holders, but the fine print reads that this only pertains to H-1B-dependent employers as well as companies found guilty of a "willful failure or misrepresentation" in the previous five years.

Source: Globility magazine and CNet (01/20/05) - GAI

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