Victory for tech industry: H1-B visas could double

 Under a bipartisan Senate immigration plan, US visas could be doubled for the high-skilled foreign workers, including those from India, giving a new ray of hope for the tech industry, according to the Washington Post reports.

The proposal would also give permanent legal status to an unlimited number of students who earn graduate degrees from US universities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Math).

The number of H1B visas for highly skilled workers would approximately double from the current limit of 65,000 per year under the plan of eight senators working on a deal between the Congress and the White House to overhaul the immigration system, the report said.

Critics suggest that H1B programme has become a way for outsourcing firms to bring lower-paid employees to the US. Most of the top 10 employers of H1B visa holders, for instance, are India-based technology consultancies with large US operations.

Those firms often train workers in the US before sending them back home to do the same job for considerably less money, according to critics cited by the Post. The Post cited these critics as saying that companies commonly use the visa to bring employees from India to work in the US for up to three years, train them and then send them back to India to continue the same work, often for a US company buying the services from a contractor.

But advocates for tech companies welcomed the developments, describing the ‘still-evolving’ immigration plan as a potential watershed moment.

“We’re encouraged,” Scott Corley, executive director of Compete America, a coalition of companies that includes Intel, Google, IBM and other tech giants, said. The foreign-worker piece of the immigration debate has been one of the thorniest for the eight senators.

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