http://sify.com/news/international/fullstory.php?id=13293386 US likely to raise H-1B visa cap Monday, 27 October , 2003, 21:36 Discuss: Should India protest against the US Bill to abolish H1-B visas? Washington: Proposals to allow more high-technology foreign workers into the US are gaining ground in Congress despite assertions by labour and anti-immigrant lobbies that plenty of Americans are available to fill the jobs. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Republican Senator Orin Hatch is pushing a plan to circumvent the 65,000 cap on H-1B temporary worker visas, under which large numbers of Indian and other foreign high-tech workers are employed in the US, by expanding exemptions, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday quoting Senate aides familiar with the talks. The talks mark for the first time that influential Senators are pressing for a temporary increase in the limit. While it is unclear if the move would succeed, Hatch's effort paves the way for a full airing of visa-overhaul legislation that has already been introduced and will likely be considered after January, the paper said. The last-minute effort to modify the visa rules as the Congressional session winds down has been prompted by a growing concern among US multinationals and high-tech companies that the current cap will prevent thousands of expert foreign workers (needed by US business and industry) from entering the US next year. In addition, said the Journal, immigration lawyers, officials and technology trade groups from India, and major US tech companies are pushing to raise the annual visa limit to more than 100,000. Any rule changes likely would be attached to a "must pass" Appropriation Bill. "We will continue to work with our colleagues to try and find any appropriate legislative action. But we haven't announced anything yet" a spokeswoman for Hatch said. She said any plan would include some added protection for US workers, including reinstating a $1,000 fee for each visa that would be used to pay for retraining American workers -- a strategy aimed at gaining Democratic agreement. So far, an idea being pressed by Intel Corp, the giant computer chip-maker, is getting the most attention. Intel's plan recommends exempting foreign students with graduate technical degrees from the visa cap.