H-1B Visa Cap Falls to 65,000

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2003-10-01 Print this article Print

With skyrocketing IT unemployment as a backdrop, the U.S. Congress let the H-1B visa limit drop back to 65,000 on Tuesday.

With skyrocketing IT unemployment as a backdrop, the U.S. Congress let the H-1B visa limit drop back to 65,000 on Tuesday. The limit on H-1B visas had been boosted to 195,000 in 2000 in response to companies that claimed they couldnt hire enough domestic talent to fuel the dot-com bubble. Even then this assertion was scorned by many high-tech labor experts who saw the visa program as a way to get cheap workers. Whats changed since then is that IT unemployment has become impossible to ignore. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some 230,000 U.S. workers in 12 engineering and computer job classifications were unemployed in the years second quarter. According to the IEEE-USA, a unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc., the unemployment rate for electrical and electronics engineers was at a record high of 7 percent in the first quarter and was scarcely better—6.4 percent—in the second quarter.
Leadership of the IEEE-USA isnt satisfied with the visa cap returning to its historical cap, however, and has issued a call for Congress to reinstate a $1,000 visa application fee that has been used to train groups of workers—many from welfare-to-work or inner-city empowerment programs—to work in the tech industry. The IEEE-USA wants to see such funds directed to training displaced engineers and other high-tech professionals.
The group also has demanded that the Department of Labor be granted stronger authority to investigate fraud and abuse of the H-1B program.
Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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