Lieberman-Hagel H-1B Bill Removes Limits for Advanced Degree Holders

Ann All

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.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
May 16, 2007 2:45 PM Deepak Deepak  says:
It's funny how foreign tech workers in fields other than IT have to ride piggy-back on all issues related to the H-1B visa. There are a few important points that most people touched by this H-1B issue miss,1) There are tech fields such as Biotech, Pharma, Chem Engg., Material Sciences, etc etc etc which are severely affected by the lack of H-1Bs this year, and this unmet demand has gone unnoticed because the loudest noise comes from the IT section of the tech pie. 2) Foreign workers in the above-mentioned fields typically get recruited from within the country by companies based in the country, meaning they get their Bachelor's or Master's or Doctoral degrees at American Universities.3) Of the 115000 applications that inundated the USCIS on the 2nd of April this year, about 100000 was from overseas IT companies. The 20000 visas made available for graduate degree holders from American Universities is mere pittance.In lieu of the 3 points mentioned above, the only hope for foreign tech workers outside of the IT industry who get their degrees in America as well as for the non-IT tech industry as a whole (i.e. the employers), is an uncapped provision in the H-1B program. There is no chance of abusing this provision as it does not involve overseas companies' interests.I find it particularly galling when either Gates or the Programmer's Guild or overseas IT body shops pitch battle over the H-1b visas while there is a big section of American economic tech interest that is being made to watch helplessly on the side. Why should biotechnology hope that IT representatives come to a consensus on this issue? Reply
May 16, 2007 6:36 PM jgo jgo  says:
And where is your discussion of the Durbin/Grassley proposal? It aint much but still much better than Kennedy/McCain and Flake/Gutierrez.A lot of those many hundreds of thousands of under-employed US citizen computer workers are also quite capable of doing biotech work... and some of us have already done so.The most important true reform would be to cut the numbers of H-1B (and E-3 and F and J and L-1) visas. The best proposal I've seen would be to auction off 83 H-1B visas per month to the highest bidder, with minimum starting bids set to cover the costs of processing the applications, conducting the background investigations, etc. at about $86K. Reply
May 17, 2007 8:54 AM Jake Leone Jake Leone  says:
Two U.S. Senators are merely asking for information on how IT Outsourcing companies are using their h-1b Visas.Because of these questions, India is threatening the U.S. with Trade Sanctions in the World Trade Organization.India knows it has something to hide, and it is using every hook it can to keep the door shut on the information.And this may well be that Indian IT Outsourcing companies preferentially hire Indian citizens over U.S. citizens for jobs in the U.S.India, apparently, believes that immigration issues such as the h-1b program should be linked to free-trade.Well wake up, Visas cannot be linked trade, EVER. And doing so is stepping all over the rights of the U.S. and most other countries.India is attempting to kick the U.S. around. The U.S. has the right to keep free-trade separate from immigration.We've already seen what can happen if immigration is not closely watched. For example, that's how 2000+ americans were murdered on Sept 11, 2001.The Indian Commerce minister is a fool to think the U.S. can link free-trade with immigration issues. Reply
May 17, 2007 4:29 PM Deepak Deepak  says:
Reply to JGO"A lot of those many hundreds of thousands of under-employed US citizen computer workers are also quite capable of doing biotech work and some of us have already done so."Now, I know you're just talking through your hat. 'The under-employed US citizen computer worker' is a magician. He can do biotech just as well as programming. Now I've heard everything. Reply
May 18, 2007 1:33 PM Colleen Yuan Colleen Yuan  says:
Besides stealing our jobs using H1B Visas, India is a cheater when it comes to Free Trade. For years, India has had 5 and 10 year Tax Holidays where the Indian Government had collected 0.00 % corporate taxes from US Multi-national companies in Free Trade Zones.Foregone Tax Revenues is a form of subsidy according to the WTO subsidies rules and a violation of the rules.This is not a level playing... has nothing to do with skills...it is all about India's lawlessness permitting Tax Evasion and which, I might add, does absolutely nothing to lift India's poor people out of poverty.India should be ashamed of itself for how it has behaved as a trade partner and owes the American Workers an apology for all the harm they have caused.Colleen Yuan Reply
May 18, 2007 1:47 PM Colleen Yuan Colleen Yuan  says:
Corporations are violating the Law of the Land EEO Equal Employment Opportunity.Check this out... Corporations are asking Congress to relieve them of having to advertise Jobs so that corporations can more quickly fill positions with foreign workersCRS Report For Congress, Immigration, April 24, 2007Immigration of Foreign Workers: Labor Market Tests and Protectionshttp://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/84327.pdf go to the section entitled Certification versus Attestation and it says Many (corporations) argue that the labor market tests in the INA in their current forms are insufficiently flexible, entail burdensome regulations, and may pose potential litigation expenses for employers. Proponents (corporations) of these views support extensive changes particularly moving FROM: labor certification based upon documented actions (i.e., evidence of recruitment advertisements) TO: a streamlined attestation of intent. These advocates of streamlining maintain it would increase the speed with which employers could hire foreign workers and reduce the governments role in delaying or blocking such employment.52Imagine that Advertising a job has become burdensome to employers sinceIt has become so much easier to place an order with Adecco, ManPower or Robert Half andGet all the cheap foreign labor one desires.It's time to give Corporations a little sensitivity training.We may want to start with Title VII, The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Obviously, corporations need to read it again, and again. Colleen Reply
May 24, 2007 8:47 AM K K  says:
Now I have had my laugh for the day. One poster wrote "There is no chance of abusing this provision as it does not involve overseas companies interests." You are either na�ve, full of it or just kidding. We all know the visas have been written to allow for maximum loop holes. There is nothing to these visas other than to drive wages down. Reply
May 31, 2007 8:49 AM Weaver Weaver  says:
To Deepak:You're supposed to be a smart guy, instead of addressing the over-subscription in the computer-related occupations, you favor raising the cap, which will simply enable more over-subscription. The H-1B approval rate for computer-related occupations for 2000-2005 averaged 46.43 % of all H-1B approvals, but the couputer-related occupations is only 3.09% of the (payroll) workforce. 90% of the L-1 visa is also computer related, and the E-B greencard approvals probably mirrors the H-1B approval rate. A good estimate is that 1,496,641 non-citizen workers held 52.4% of the computer-related workforce in 2005. http://immigration-weaver.blogspot.com/2007/04/project-guestworker-impact-on-us.html I'm sure the Programmers Guild would be very happy if the "Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations" (1,231,070 jobs) would absorb a million or more of these visas. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#b19-0000One reason biotech is having problems attaining H-1Bs is because the IT sector over-subscribed, awash with mediocre technicians imported by greedy body-shops, taking visas away from legitimate employers. Raising the educational requirement the postgraduate degree and/or a free market-system of bidding (highest salaries) for the the visa would fix the problem.As for programmers working in the biotech industry? Who do you think understood and wrote the computer- programs that make modern biotech possible? Reply
Jun 2, 2008 3:02 PM kris kris  says:
For god sakes do not come here on F1 for an eventual H1B in biotechnology related fields because you will literally become a slave. Life is going to be excruciatingly painful. Your life is going to be in the hands of a few people who will exploit you and treat you like a slave because they know you are not going to be marketable outside. Once you are hired by a company rarely you get a chance to join another company. I may not be explaining this in a better way guys but please please my fellow Indians do not get into biotechnology companies. Even if you are a graduate in biology I would advise taking a break and learn some technology in computers and work for a few years and go back. If you are ok with living on bare minimum money and dedicate your life to science then by all means it is ok to come here on a science degree and H1. But I repeat you are still going to be a slave. Life will be a living hell every day and every minute. Your well wisher...a victim of biotechnology H1 job...insecure for life ... suicidalgood luck Reply
Oct 14, 2008 5:09 PM Krishna Krishna  says:
It is interesting to hear all these comments. India , a cheater of free Trade and enjoyed tax holidays? ---Wow! What an expression, that too from ............ Isn't it time for one and all to see the tragedy of events that are addressing the humanity and how we all are grappling ourselves in the low economy state and fewer jobs. There are countries which amassed billions of dollars on being free trade partners withUSA and have made the country to be in debt. Their people come in ships with no legal status and make this country their home and take away all the basic jobs. It is countries such as India which have been participating and contributing to the advancement of the technology, medical, health care , pharma, space industries . It is indeed a point to note that the H1B rules need to be formulated and strictly adhered , however there are no norms on those fraudulent companies which employ personnel stating they would be paid Salary + Commission and avoid paying the commission. They do not pay salaries on time , stating the delay in receiving funds from vendors. As one biotechnology consultants commented , USCIS needs to streamline this( bio- technolgy) area of H1 b workers who literally stay the life of a slave as they are employed with minimum wages. These are the ones who create life for our future. Give them the benefit of more funds and more wages. Let every graduate student from advanced degrees spend atleast six months in stipulated , restricted work areas such as educating students in schools, remote challenging schools, do a project as a social worker, be part of a system that prepares them to be qualified workers than be an intern in a company and spend the rest of their lives doing the same monotonous job. There needs to be an advanced six month curriculum only to do projects, social, economic, technical, healthcare oriented. They can be prepared as ambassadors for the future generation. Hib WORKERS ARE A MUST TO THIS NATION for the ongoing projects and for the future of the technolgy in this country. Reply

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