Biden seeks more foreign workers while skirting H-1B visa uproar

Joe Biden’s immigration overhaul seeks to permit more skilled foreign workers into the U.S. without stirring widespread protest from labor groups, whose opposition would ruin prospects for what's already one among the president’s most precarious priorities.

The sweeping proposal Biden sent to Congress on his first day in office drew quick Republican opposition over its centerpiece: a faster path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants within the U.S. Another provision would allow more foreign students and workers to enter the U.S. by increasing the amount of employment-based green cards.

Business groups view the proposal as how to extend the availability of coders and other skilled tech workers for U.S. companies without raising caps on programs like the H-1B visa for high-skilled workers.

Companies like Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. have for years pressed to increase the number of tech workers allowed into the U.S., saying they need engineers from countries like India because there aren’t enough skilled Americans. But efforts to expand the workforce through H-1B visas have drawn a backlash from unions and immigration opponents, who argue that the companies overlook U.S. talent to hire foreigners at lower salaries.

The Biden proposal seeks to sidestep a conflict with organized labor by leaving the annual H-1B quota untouched. The measure instead clears a path for more foreign workers to eventually enter the country by eliminating a decades-long backlog of individuals expecting employment-based green cards, which grant permanent domicile and are capped at 140,000 per annum under current law.

“This bill, signed into law, would be a tremendous improvement for legal immigration in this country,” said Todd Schulte, president of, an immigration advocacy group founded by tech industry leaders.

Business group leaders have discussed an immigration overhaul with Democratic and Republican staff within the House and Senate, consistent with industry officials performing on the difficulty . The talks have focused on finding areas of bipartisan consensus which will help advance an overall package, including keeping science-technology-engineering-math graduates within the U.S.; providing status for so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants delivered to the country as children; and streamlining the employment-based visa system.

Dr. Dhillon Randeep

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