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Congressman David Dreier (Republican, California) has introduced legislation to increase the availability of high-tech workers by raising visa quotas for educated foreigners. Called the Helping to Improve Technology Education and Achievement (HI-TECH) Act -- yeah, we figure they chose the acronym first -- the bill would raise the cap on H1-B visas from 107,500 to 200,000 for the next three years. The act would also increase the visa application fee by an additional US $500. The extra money would be used to train and educate Americans in modern technical skills so that they might one day compete on even footing for high-tech jobs with the citizens of Third-World countries. The bill is interesting because it would allow countries to barter in unused quotas. Thus a populous country like India could buy unused visas from smaller nations or ones where citizens are more comfortable and less inclined to emigrate. It would also allow the US Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) to accumulate unused visas at the end of one year and issue them in addition to a future year's quota if necessary. It makes almost too much sense to pass; but if it should, it will take effect in October. ®

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