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High-tech Pushes For More In Immigration Bill

Robert Hoffman, senior vice president for government affairs at the Information Technology Industry Council, disagreed. He said that the changes sought by Hatch, whose state is increasingly becoming a major high-tech employer, mostly amount to mechanical fixes to ensure the high-tech provisions work to boost economic growth and job creation in the U.S.

"It's very important that the H-1B be workable and I think that's what we're trying to fix," Hoffman said. "Because the reality is the legislation as drafted in our view runs the risk of pushing work and investment that could come through temporary visas outside the United States."

The Information Technology Industry Council joined dozens of other business groups and state and local chambers of commerce and technology councils in sending a letter to Judiciary Committee members Monday outlining their concerns about the high-tech language in the bill.

The bill would raise the cap on H-1B visas from the current 65,000 annually to 110,000, with the potential to adjust upward to 180,000 depending on how many visa applications are received and what the unemployment rate is. High-tech companies said the unemployment rate shouldn't be a factor because it might not reflect actual demand for skilled workers. Hatch has an amendment to make that change.

High-tech companies also are concerned about a new provision requiring them to show they've tried to recruit U.S. workers before hiring anyone on an H-1B visa. Hatch would limit the requirement only to companies that are more heavily dependent on H-1B visas, so that it wouldn't apply to a number of U.S. tech companies.

Hatch also has an amendment to change a requirement in the bill seeking to ensure that U.S. workers are not displaced by the hiring of foreigners.

The Judiciary Committee meets Tuesday, but the consideration of the bulk of Hatch's amendments looked likely to be put off until Thursday to give senators time to see if they could reach a resolution.

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