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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

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May 11, 2000
The Honorable Henry J. Hyde Chairman Committee on the Judiciary U.S. House
 of Representatives Washington, DC 20515 
                    THE WHITE HOUSE

               Office of the Press Secretary

___________________________________________________________________________
______
For Immediate Release                                        May 11, 2000

                               May 11, 2000


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

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

|-----------------------------------+-----------------------------------|
|                                   |                                   |
| Current Law                       | Administration Proposal           |
| 2001     107,500                  | 2001      200,000                 |
| 2002      65,000                  | 2002      200,000                 |
| 2003      65,000                  | 2003      200,000                 |
|                                   |                                   |
|-----------------------------------+-----------------------------------|




2.  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.



3.  Additional Fees for Building the Skills of US Workers

  |---------------------------+--------------------------------------|
  |                           |                                      |
  | Current Law               | Administration Proposal              |
  | $500 Fee for H-1B Visa    | $2,000 for Most Employers            |
  |                           | $3,000 for H-1B Dependent Employers  |
  |                           |                       (as defined in |
  |                           | current law)                         |
  |                           |                                      |
  |---------------------------+--------------------------------------|





4.  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.

5.  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.


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