More Visas for Foreign Engineers

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff March 8, 2005

A massive omnibus spending bill passed by Congress in December and signed by President Bush raises the annual cap on H1-B visas, according to a report in the January issue of the National Society of Professional Engineer’s Engineering Times.

Congress added the provision at the last minute, says the report, and legislators approved the bill. NSPE had gone on record as being opposed to raising the visa cap.

The agreement increases the number of H1-B visas for foreign workers in specialty occupations, such as engineering, from 65,000 to 85,000 per year. Theadditional 20,000 H1-B visas would be available only to foreign workers who have advanced graduate degrees from U.S. universities.

The new law increases the fee for processing an H1-B application from $1,000 to $1,500, and the fee for businesses with fewer than 25 full-time employees would be 50% of the full fee, or $750. The increased proceeds from the fees will be earmarked for retraining displaced U.S. technology workers and for scholarships to low-income students studying mathematics, engineering, or computer science.

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