The H-1B visa issue is shaping up as an increasingly popular cause for legislators. Joining several proposals already on the Congressional table is one from Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) that, like some others, includes a provision to allow more of the controversial visas.
Their bill also would remove the annual cap of 20,000 for holders of advanced degrees and allow exemptions for H-1B applicants with "medical specialty certification based on post-doctoral training and experience in the United States."
Interestingly, as of mid-April, some 7,000 H-1B slots were still available for advanced degree holders, lending some fuel to the fire of arguments that companies are seeking to hire the least expensive foreign workers, rather than the most qualified.
The Lieberman-Hagel bill is the first that we are aware of to specifically address the advanced degree issue. It doesn't seem to impress the founder of the Programmer's Guild, who notes in a ZDNet article that applicants with "a master's degree in basket weaving" would meet the bill's criteria.
Among the bill's other provisions: limits on the number of H-1B visas as a proportion of the total workforce for companies with more than 50 employees; an increase in fines levied against companies that violate H-1B requirements; and mandatory annual audits by the Department of Labor for large companies where H-1B workers account for more than 15 percent of the staff.