The bill, which has received strong support from high-tech companies, would extend the quota of H1B visas granted to highly-skilled foreign workers. Currently, 65,000 workers in this category may enter the country each year. The bill would raise the number to 115,000, but would lower it back down to 65,000 in 2002. If the bill passes, it would mean that 300,000 more employees can enter the country over the next three years.
The House had scheduled a vote on another bill regarding these workers, but the White House had threatened to veto it. The House is now expected to withdraw its bill, and schedule a vote on the compromise sometime this week.
High-tech companies back the bill because they say it will help them fill jobs they can't get find U.S. workers for. But it is opposed by labour advocates, who say that it will take jobs away from Americans.
Speaking at a press conference in New York Thursday, Intel Chairman Andy Grove came out in support of foreign high-tech workers. "Intel itself lives and dies on the work of immigrants," Grove said. "And, in a day when there is great concern about immigration, it's necessary to take a stand on this issue."