May 4 2006
Senators Introduce SKIL Bill, In Support of Highly Skilled Foreign Workers
The SKIL (securing Knowledge Innovation and Leadership) Bill was introduced May 2 of this year by Senator John Cornyn (R, TX). The bill was co-sponsored by Senators George Allen (R, VA), Wayne Allard (R-CO), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Michael Enzi (R-WY), and Trent Lott (R-MS). The bill, which provides for various provisions that support the immigration of technical foreign workers has been greatly supported by technology companies in the United States, who depend on a continued influx of highly skilled foreign workers.
Four major provisions of the SKIL bill that support technology in the U.S. are as follows:
• The bill would exempt U.S.-educated foreign workers with advanced degrees from the H-1B and EB quotas.
• The bill would also create a flexible, market-based H-1B cap. Current limits on H-1B visas were reached in August of last year and will keep U.S. companies from employing new workers using that visa until October, 2006.
• The bill also extends the optional post-curricular training program for foreign students to 2 years from the current limit of 1 year, which would ease the transition from student to permanent resident.
• Finally, the bill exempts immigrant spouses and children of EB and permanent visa workers from any annual cap, which would free up more visas for the highly skilled workers themselves.
Supporters of the bill state that too few U.S. residents are receiving advanced degrees in science and engineering. Highly skilled foreign workers must be made available to U.S. companies for them to remain competitive in the global market.