Immigration Reform Bill and H1B visa Quota for 2006-07

Lots of folks were very happy to hear the news on 25th May, 2006 that Senate passed a comprehensive immigration  reform bill (S.2611) that increase the H1B visa quota from current cap of 65000 to 1,15,000 with an automatic 20% increase year on year. There is another provisions in the bill that would also help to ease up on the quota. Visas for applicants who studied Masters in USA, would not be included in the cap, means they are not counted towards the cap.  Students who do Masters in USA, a H1B work visa is then a guaranteed option. Current 20000 special exemption quota for Advanced Degree holders will be used for students who did Masters in other parts of the world.


But there was a big confusion voiced that the House version of the Reform bill ((H.R.4437) that was passed in December last year did not mention any thing about this hike. The Senate bill must be reconciled with the House version of the bill by the joint Senate-House Conference Committee to enact this bill as law. This poses serious questions and doubts about the enactment of this law. Can they reach a compromise solution that include this H1B hike? 


Some news reports and Lawyer associations expressed doubts about the possibility of reaching a compromise solution that would include hike of H1B visas.  A circular issued by American Immigration Lawyers Association  notes that this would be one of the most contentious House/Senate conferences. A news story @ yahoo reports that negotiations will be tough and getting this bill passed by Senate is only a first step, hinting more hurdles.


There is little more comprehensive discussion of these two versions of the Immigration Reform bill is available at wiki.( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S2611 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.R._4437). Specific information about the time frame for the Joint Conference Committe to finalize on this matter is still largely unknown to me. If  a favourable resolution is reached, can it be this year?


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