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U.S. Tech Trade Group Seeks Expansion Of H-1B Visas

The American Electronic Association has called for expanding beyond 65,000 the number of the H-1B visas due to be offered in 2006 to allow foreign-born engineers and programmers to take jobs in the United States.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — The AeA, the nation's largest high-technology trade association, called for reforms in the current immigration laws in reaction to Friday’s (August 12) announcement by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that the H-1B visa cap has been met for 2006.

The USCIS (Washington, D.C.) said the deadline for H-1B visa petitions was Aug. 10.

Congress set an annual H-1B visa cap at 65,000. Some 6,800 visas are set aside for the U.S.-Chile and U.S.- Singapore Free Trade Acts. As a result, the total amount of visas available for fiscal 2006 is 58,200.

"Today's announcement by the USCIS further solidifies the fact that we need to take a serious look at immigration reform," said John Palafoutas, AeA's senior vice president for domestic policy, in a statement.

"America's well-kept secret is that it has rarely produced enough American-born workers with the requisite science and engineering background to support its knowledge economy. Our safety valve has been the H-1B Visa program, which was designed to augment the workforce. The current system is failing its original intentions,” he said.

"Denying entry of the world's most highly educated talent into the United States is taking its toll. We should be stapling Green Cards to the diplomas of every foreign national who graduates from a U.S. educational institution with a masters or PhD, and we should keep the world's best and brightest here in the U.S. to help strengthen our economy," he added.