A US IT industry group has called for congressional reform of the country's immigration visa process, after the announcement by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that it has reached its cap on H-1B visas for tech workers for fiscal 2008.
The continued leadership of the US technology industry is dependent on the ability of US companies to hire highly educated, highly skilled workers, the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) argued.
Ken Wach, SIIA president, said: "The USCIS announcement that it met the cap on H-1B visa petitions on the first day of eligibility is further evidence that the current visa allotment system is broken.
"If Congress does not take action to reform the system, the global competitiveness of many American companies will be threatened."
US companies use H-1B visas to employ foreign workers in occupations that require technical expertise in specialised fields such as computer programming, science and engineering.
The announcement by USCIS that the cap for H-1B visa petitions was reached on the first day of eligibility means that many 2007 foreign graduates of American universities will eventually be precluded from pursuing significant employment within the US for a period of 18 months, Wach warned.
David LeDuc, director of public policy at the SIIA, added: "Innovation and competition within the American technology industry is a leading driver of US economic growth.
"However, demand for workers with the right technical skills and knowledge has grown at a rate greater than the US workforce can meet.
"While it is critical that we remain focused on training American workers to meet the industry needs of the 21st century, companies must be able to meet their immediate needs by hiring the most highly skilled professionals the world has to offer."
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