Proposed US legislation potentially good news for tech workers

The US Senate yesterday introduced bipartisan legislation that would make it easier for American-based high-tech firms to hire foreign technology specialists.

The proposed bill would loosen restrictions on permanent resident status in the United States for some high-tech workers and their dependents.

The proposals would also see the number of high-tech visas available for foreign workers increased to 115,000 a year from 65,000, with the possibility that the cap could be raised as high as 195,000 in any one year if demand for the workers was strong.

A new ‘entrepreneur’s visa’ could also be created to allow people who want to start companies in the United States to stay in the country.

“An immigration system for the 21st century will be judged by whether it provides the conditions for both security and economic growth,” said Republican Senator Marco Rubio, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, in a statement. “The reforms in this legislation lead the way to such a system, which I believe we can ultimately achieve after meeting the immediate challenges of securing our borders and improving internal enforcement.”

News of the proposed legislation has met with widespread acclaim from many American technology firms, who are hopeful the bill will pass Congress having had a similar bill stall there two year ago.

This bill would help us to attract the best and brightest minds who want to bring their talents to our companies by using a market driven approach to match what our economy needs in terms of high-skilled employees,” said Andy Halataei, vice president of the Information Technology Industry Council. It represents companies that include Aol,Google, Dell, Facebook and Microsoft.

The bill was presented by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, with support from both Republican and Democratic Senators. Hatch is hopeful that, while widespread immigration reform is unlikely, a more targeted bill to help out the technology sector could prove more popular in Congress.