Letter on Increasing High-Skilled Workers

May 11, 2000


The Honorable Henry J. Hyde
Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Hyde:

The House of Representatives is currently considering a variety of proposals designed to address both the industry's immediate need for high-skilled workers and the nation's need to prepare its own workers to fill these and future jobs created by the information technology revolution. The first and primary policy for increasing the availability of high skilled workers must be focused on increasing the education and training of U.S. workers. However, at times U.S. businesses need additional access to the international labor market to maintain and enhance our global competitiveness, particularly in high-growth new technology industries and particularly in tight labor markets.

In addition, as we consider allowing more foreign temporary workers into this country to meet the needs of our high tech industry, it is critical that we take this opportunity to correct two long-standing injustices currently affecting many immigrants already in our country. The Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) should be amended to provide equitable treatment for other Central American immigrants, and the Date of Registry should be changed to offer long-term immigrants with longstanding ties to this country the opportunity to apply for legal resident status.

There are a number of ideas currently being discussed in Congress regarding the H-1B visa issue. For example, the bill by Rep. Smith and Rep. Jackson Lee is pending before your committee. In addition, Chairman Dreier and Rep. Lofgren have a proposal that makes important contributions to this discussion that are worthy of serious consideration. The bipartisan proposal reported out by Chairman Goodling's Committee on Education and the Workforce makes considerable progress on the education and training component of this issue. Yet despite these efforts, no single proposal has emerged which represents a comprehensive, bipartisan compromise that members of Congress and the Administration can all support. Therefore, in an effort to advance the prospects for a bipartisan solution, the President proposes the changes to current law outlined in the following attachment. The President's proposal represents a balanced approach of a reasonable increase in the number of H-1B visas, significant provisions to protect and prepare the U.S. workforce, and measures of fairness and equity for certain immigrants already in the U.S.

I have attached the details of the President's proposal for your review. We look forward to working with you to reach a constructive bipartisan resolution on this important matter.



Gene Sperling
Director, National Economic Council &
Assistant to the President for Economic Policy

President Clinton's H-1B Visa Proposal



1. Raise the Cap on H-1B Visas for FY 2001, 2002, and 2003

Current Law

  1. 107,500
  2. 65,000
  3. 65,000

Administration Proposal

  1. 200,000
  2. 200,000
  3. 200,000

2. Ensure a Significant Set-Aside for Highly Educated Workers


Administration Proposal
2001 40% for Master's Degree and Above
2002 45% for Master's Degree and Above
2003 50% for Master's Degree and Above

3. Additional Fees for Building the Skills of US Workers

Current Law

$500 Fee for H-1B Visa

Administration Proposal

$2,000 for Most Employers

$3,000 for H-1B Dependent Employers
(as defined in current law)

4. Additional Resources for Education and Training

5. The Administration strongly supports the inclusion of the "Central American and Haitian Parity Act of 1999" (HR 2722 and S. 1592) and Registry Date legislation (HR 4172 and S. 2407) within H-1B legislation.

In addition, the Administration supports extension of the attestation requirements and DoL investigative authority granted in the American Competitive Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (ACWIA) throughout the cap increase – until October 1, 2003. Currently, the provisions sunset along with the ACWIA cap increase in October, 2001.

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