Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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April 7, 2014

Next year's high-skilled visas snapped up in days

WASHINGTON (AP) — Businesses seeking highly skilled workers from overseas took less than a week to snap up all 85,000 visas available for next year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced Monday.

The agency had been accepting applications just since April 1 for the 2015 fiscal year quota of the highly coveted H-1B visas, which are used for computer programmers, engineers and other skilled workers employed in the Silicon Valley and elsewhere.

It's no surprise that the cap was reached quickly. That's happened repeatedly in recent years and is a key issue that drove business executives to lobby for comprehensive immigration reform.

The far-reaching immigration bill that passed the Senate last year included a major increase in H-1B visas along with other changes making it easier to bring skilled workers to the U.S.

But with that legislation stalled in the Republican-led House, some high-tech leaders have recently made pleas to lawmakers to at least increase H-1B visas. That's led to some concern among supporters of the Senate bill that high-tech leaders are focusing on their own priorities and abandoning their commitment to comprehensive legislation that includes a path to citizenship for some 11 million immigrants now here illegally.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., an author of the Senate bill, sent a letter to high-tech chief executives last week asking them to renew their commitment to comprehensive legislation and chiding, "This 'divide and conquer' approach destroys the delicate political balance achieved in our bipartisan bill and calls into question the good faith of those who would sacrifice millions of lives for H-1B relief."

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