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5/24/2007
08:59 PM
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Amendment To Hike H-1B Fees Passes In Senate

The fees are earmarked to fund a new scholarship program for American students pursuing degrees in fields related to mathematics, technology, and health care.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed an amendment that could more than triple the fees employers pay for each H-1B visa petition if the controversial immigration reform bill being wrangled in Congress is signed into law.

The amendment sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., had originally proposed raising fees from the current $1,500 to $8,500 per H-1B visa. However, the version of the amendment that passed the Senate 59 to 35 calls for an increase in fees to $5,000 per H-1B visa.

The fees are earmarked to fund a new scholarship program for American students pursuing degrees in fields related to mathematics, technology, and health care.

In a statement, Compete America, a coalition of U.S. tech companies, called the passage of the Sanders amendment "an outrageous and onerous tax increase on our nation's most innovative companies, and could make the H-1B program cost-prohibitive, especially for smaller businesses."

Compete America predicts the amendment will "accelerate outsourcing and undermine U.S. economic growth."

Supporters of the amendment, including U.S. IT worker advocacy groups, however, characterized the amendment as a step in the right direction for making it more difficult for companies to displace American workers with lower-paid foreign talent.

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