Immigration: Legislative Issues on Nonimmigrant Professional Specialty (H-1B) Workers [Updated June 12, 2001] [open pdf - 76KB]
"Many in the business community, notably in the information technology area, urged that the H-1B ceiling be raised. The recent economic downturn in the information technology sector has diminished demand for H-1Bs, but emerging concerns of shortages of nurses and other health care professionals may prompt an increase in petitions for H-1Bs among health care professionals. As of May 23, 2001, approximately 117,000 H-1B visas have been approved. Those opposing any further increases or easing of admissions requirements assert that there is no compelling evidence of a labor shortage in these professional areas that cannot be met by newly graduating students and retraining the existing U.S. work force. They argue further that the education of U.S. students and training of U.S. workers should be prioritized and that reliance on foreign workers would stymie those objectives. Proponents of H-1B expansion say that the education of students and retraining of the current workforce is a long-term response, and they cannot wait to fill today's openings. Proponents argue that increases in the admission of H-1B workers are essential if the United States is to remain globally competitive and that employers should be free to hire the best people for the jobs."
CRS Report for Congress, RL30498