Hiring restrictions for tech firms eased under deal

A breakthrough compromise was reached yesterday on the Senate’s leading immigration bill that requires firms to make a “good faith” attempt to hire workers from the United States for high-skilled technology jobs, but nonetheless eases a number of the stricter hiring requirements that would have been faced by many companies under some of the earlier drafts of the bill.

The tech industry vigorously pursued the new language and it was voted on yesterday afternoon as the Senate Judiciary Committee attempts to complete its work on the country’s biggest overhaul of the immigration system in several decades.  Senators Charles Schumer and Orrin Hatch negotiated the compromise measure, the former being one of the “Gang of Eight” senators who crafted the immigration bill that is currently before the Senate.

Hatch, a Republican who serves on the Judiciary panel and has been courted heavily to support the overhaul, said that as long as the compromise measures were included he would vote to advance the bill out of the committee but offered no guarantees on his support on the floor of the Senate.

The original bill would have forced any firm that used H-1B US visas to advertise job openings first on a government website for a month and to extend offers to US citizens before visa holders.  The compromise means that the stricter requirements will only apply to firms that use H-1B visas for over 15% of their full time workers who hold college and advanced degrees.