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Altered Vista

More visas = more choices for high-tech companies seeking skilled workers

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This story appears in the January 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

High-tech companies that have trouble luring computer engineers and programmers may soon fish in a deeper pool, thanks to Congress' move to increase the number of H-1B visas available to skilled workers from foreign countries. Though foreign-born workers frequently graduate from U.S. colleges, earning bachelor's degrees or higher, they must immediately return to their home countries, even if U.S. companies make them great job offers.

The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 (S.2045), signed into law in October, bumps up the H-1B level to 195,000 visas to be issued in each of the fiscal years 2001, 2002 and 2003. The levels otherwise would have been 107,500 in 2001 and 65,000 in 2002 and 2003. H-1B visas go to foreign workers in "specialty" professions, defined as requiring "a theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge." The visas are good for three years and can be renewed for another three.

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