May 14, 2013
by SFGate

Silicon Valley tech companies are aggressively seeking looser requirements to “hire American workers first” to fill tech jobs, potentially splitting the bipartisan Gang of Eight coalition that put together the huge immigration bill. The Senate Judiciary Committee worked through a series of tech-related amendments Tuesday that revealed divisions over the issue in both parties.

The bill expands H-1b visas from 65,000 to 110,000 a year, and as high as 180,000 if demand is high. The bill also eases the way to permanent residency for these workers as well as immigrants who have earned an advanced degree from a U.S. university in science, technology, engineering or math. The bill would eliminate per-country backlogs of green card applications that have kept many H-1b workers from attaining permanent residency.

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