Hello everybody. This is Cyrus Mehta. Welcome to this week's edition of immigration matters.
The hottest issue these days is whether the legislation to increase the H-1B cap will pass or not. Negotiations on the H-1B cap have collapsed. Suddenly, the hi-tech lobby is fighting to keep alive the legislation to increase the number of H-1B workers that can be admitted into the United States.
Just after the 65,000 cap was reached in May, Senator Abraham's bill, s.1723, sailed through the Senate and it looked like industry would get a bill that would have increased the numbers. However, an odd alliance emerged between anti-immigrant Republican leader Lamar Smith in the House of Representatives and the labor friendly Clinton administration.
Shortly after the passage of the Senate bill, Lamar Smith also proposed legislation in the House that would have increased the cap but he included two riders that would effectively destroy the H-1B program. Smith's bill would require American companies seeking to import H-1B workers to make two attestations:
the employer has tried and failed to hire qualified American; and
that no U.S. workers were laid off to create vacancies for foreigners.
On July 16, the President issued a press statement indicating that if Congress sends him a bill that increases the cap on H-1B visas but does not contain the two attestations in Lamar Smith's bill, he will veto it.
There are only twenty days left before Congress goes out of session. The clock is ticking on this issue and one cannot take for granted that the cap will be lifted by the legislation. Estimates show that after new H-1B numbers are released in October 1998 and new H-1B visas are issued, the cap again will be reached as early as December 1998 and new H-1Bs would not be available again until October 1999.
Two Silicon Valley lawmakers, Representatives Tom Campbell, a Republican, and Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat, are trying to broker a compromise between the Senate bill, which the industry likes, and the current House version, which it hates. Even House majority Republican leader Dick Armey is trying to broker a compromise between Abraham and Smith. He proposed that the H-1B program remains intact and a new H-1 visa be created for additional numbers beyond 65,000 that would contain the attestations. But all his efforts have failed thus far. Smith refuses to budge.
This is really your last chance to act. Contact your Congressperson and consider urging him or her to support a raising of the H-1B cap without new anti-business attestation requirements.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call the Law Offices of Cyrus D. Mehta at 212-686-1581. The number once again is 212-686-1581. You could also e-mail us at email@example.com
or visit our website at www.cyrusmehta.com
This is Cyrus Mehta wishing you a wonderful weekend. See you again in two weeks.