I heard that US senate and congress is thinking to increase the H1B annual quota from 65,000 to 90,000 or 95,000. Can anyone confirm?
Yes and no together.
Yes, H1B cap for 2006 will be 95,000 so an extra 30,000 compared to previous year 65,000 standard (http://www.infoworld.com/article/05/10/21/HNsenateh-ib_1.html). Reason is that as H1B cap has been reached abnormalously early, hence 14 mounths official wait before newest H1B demands, which shows the present system has become absurd somehow. IT industry claims it shows there is a great sortage for demand. As some 300,000 unused H1B from past years since 1992 are still available (for among the 65,000 caped H1B files each year many remain pending but are never granted), US first wondered about extracting from this available pool 60,000 extra visas each year (http://www.indiadaily.com/breaking_news/49329.asp) to beef up the cap.
But issue is that if on one hand IT industry wants more aliens on the other hand US citizens are strongly opposed as to it as IT unemployment remains high in US (about 10%, twice national average). All former studies showed that in the past when labour immigration caps were lowered US unemployment decreased along, even in IT field. Then, so as to try to cope between these two usual extremes, US gov cut the fruit in half, allowing 30,000 extra H1B visas only.
So you are right in a way, 2006 H1B cap will be 65,000+30,000=95,000 but I say no as a final decision as this looks like a very temporary one. It is very true that present H1B immigration hurts US employment and wages, but important election are coming, especially in 2008, and all shows that immigration will be a matter of critical importance.
As US workers are voters too, H1B cap increase decision on long term will certainly lead to GOP crushing at next elections if it turns bad on unemployment. In fact the whole US immigration system is in default : each year more illegals aliens than legal ones, outdated and often abused labour process where no one can state clearly whether it globally benefits to US or not (yes for profits, no for unemployment), and newest H5A/H5B guest worker visas tailored for employers refusing to offer wages decent enough for US citizens to accept them. The illegal immigration alone has become a struggle for political survival matter for present US gov, everyone wants secure borders and stop illegal flood at any price and will find no excuse if success is not achieved. Even now half of republicans are in open conflict within GOP to achieve this goal as they know their political interests are at stake, public opinion demands results.
So I see this extra 30,000 H1B cap as an immediate measure to try to cope with these two extreme opposite demands, there is no evidence at all it will be reconducted next year, especially as major elections get nearer. IMHO next years statistics will decide whether the measure has to be reconducted or not, for if results are bad it will certainly be dropped.
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