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White House Letter Proposing Increasing Visa Increases

May 15, 2000
The following proposal was sent May 11, 2000, outlining President Clinton's proposed changes in the H1-B rules.

 

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

The Honorable Henry J. Hyde

Chairman

Committee on the Judiciary

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Hyde:

The House of Representatives is currently considering a variety of proposals designed to address both the industry's immediate need for high-skilled workers and the nation's need to prepare its own workers to fill these and future jobs created by the information technology revolution.

The first and primary policy for increasing the availability of high skilled workers must be focused on increasing the education and training of U.S. workers. However, at times U.S. businesses need additional access to the international labor market to maintain and enhance our global competitiveness, particularly in high-growth new technology industries and particularly in tight labor markets.

In addition, as we consider allowing more foreign temporary workers into this country to meet the needs of our high tech industry, it is critical that we take this opportunity to correct two long-standing injustices currently affecting many immigrants already in our country.

The Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) should be amended to provide equitable treatment for other Central American immigrants, and the Date of Registry should be changed to offer long-term immigrants with longstanding ties to this country the opportunity to apply for legal resident status.

There are a number of ideas currently being discussed in Congress regarding the H-1B visa issue. For example, the bill by Rep. Smith and Rep. Jackson Lee is pending before your committee. In addition, Chairman Dreier and Rep. Lofgren have a proposal that makes important contributions to this discussion that are worthy of serious consideration. The bipartisan proposal reported out by Chairman Goodling's Committee on Education and the Workforce makes considerable progress on the education and training component of this issue.

Yet despite these efforts, no single proposal has emerged which represents a comprehensive, bipartisan compromise that members of Congress and the Administration can all support. Therefore, in an effort to advance the prospects for a bipartisan solution, the President proposes the changes to current law outlined in the following attachment. The President's proposal represents a balanced approach of a reasonable increase in the number of H-1B visas, significant provisions to protect and prepare the U.S. workforce, and measures of fairness and equity for certain immigrants already in the U.S.

I have attached the details of the President's proposal for your review. We look forward to working with you to reach a constructive bipartisan resolution on this important matter.

Sincerely,

Gene Sperling

Director, National Economic Council & Assistant to the President for Economic Policy

 

President Clinton's H-1B Visa Proposal

Raise the Cap on H-1B Visas for FY 2001, 2002, and 2003

Current Law

2001 107,500

2002 65,000

2003 65,000

Administration Proposal

2001 200,000

2002 200,000

2003 200,000

 

Ensure a Significant Set-Aside for Highly Educated Workers

Currently, the INS estimates that 40% of H-1B visas go to individuals holding a Master's or higher degree. The President's proposal preserves that proportion in the coming year, and slightly increases it in 2002 and 2003, while still significantly increasing the number of visas available to professionals with no more than a Bachelor's degree.

Administration Proposal

2001 40% for Master's Degree and Above

2002 45% for Master's Degree and Above

2003 50% for Master's Degree and Above

In addition, 10,000 visas are to be set aside for institutions of higher education and other research institutions.

 

Additional Fees for Building the Skills of US Workers

Current Law

$500 Fee for H-1B Visa

Administration Proposal

$2,000 for Most Employers

$3,000 for H-1B Dependent Employers (as defined in current law)

 

Additional Resources for Education and Training

  • 50% of Total H-1B Fees for Training American Workers:
  • DoL, in consultation with the Department of Commerce (DoC), will fund effective and innovative private-public partnerships to train American workers.
  • Preponderance will go to education and training for incumbent and dislocated worker training, and a smaller proportion for youth opportunity programs.
  • Special emphasis will be put on funding innovative projects that focus on groups underrepresented in the IT industry, such as women, minorities, and Americans with disabilities.
  • 30% for educational activities including National Science Foundation (NSF) programs for scholarships for low-income students in computer science, math and engineering, Graduate Research Fellowships, and merit-based scholarships; the Department of Education's Teacher-Loan Forgiveness, Upward Bound and Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) programs; and programs for and better coordination of economic dislocation assistance through the Department of Commerce Community Economic Adjustment program.
  • 20% for dramatically improving customer service at INS and DoL by speeding up application processing, reducing backlogs, and improving enforcement of employer-based immigration programs.

 

The Administration strongly supports the inclusion of the "Central American and Haitian Parity Act of 1999" (HR 2722 and S. 1592) and Registry Date legislation (HR 4172 and S. 2407) within H-1B legislation.

  • Central American and Haitian Parity Act of 1999 -- amends the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) to provide certain nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti an opportunity to apply for adjustment of status under that Act. Currently, NACARA applies only to Nicaraguans and Cubans.
  • The proposed Registry Date legislation would allow certain long-term immigrants of good moral character who have been living in the United States for a long time (fifteen years or more) to apply for legal resident status.
  • The registry date provision has been in effect since 1952, and a comparable provision has been part of U.S. immigration law since 1929. The current registry date, January 1, 1972, was adopted 14 years ago. This proposal moves the registry date up an additional 14 years, to January 1, 1986.

 

In addition, the Administration supports extension of the attestation requirements and DoL investigative authority granted in the American Competitive Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (ACWIA) throughout the cap increase -- until October 1, 2003. Currently, the provisions sunset along with the ACWIA cap increase in October, 2001.