Illinois Senator Fitzgerald Supports H-1B

This is a response to a letter that Robert B. Johnson wrote to Illinois Congressman John Porter. Robert Johnson is public relations chairman of the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois.



WASHINGTON, DC 20510-1305

October 23, 2000

Mr. Robert Johnson
1409 Rachel Ln.
Buffalo Grove, Illinois 60089

Dear Mr. Johnson:

Thank you for contacting me regarding H-1B visas. I appreciate hearing from you and would to take this opportunity to respond.

As you may know, H-1B visas authorize highly skilled foreign workers to come to the United States, usually for a limited period of three years. Congress passed legislation in 1998 that authorized the issuance of 115,000 H-1B visas for fiscal year 2000 and 107,500 for fiscal year 2001. However, with the continuing growth in high technology industries and the tight overall labor market, the requests for visas far exceed these authorized numbers.

On February 9, 2000, Senators Spencer Abraham (R-MI) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act of 2000 (S. 2045), a measure that would temporarily increase the number of H-1B visas issued annually to 195,000 for fiscal years 2000-2002. These visas would produce more than $150 million in fees to support training and scholarships for American workers. The bill would also provide one-year extensions for certain visa holders facing a lengthy delay in the adjudication of a request for permanent residence.

Supporters of the increase cite the importance of attracting highly skilled workers to sustain the American economy and to continue advances in technology. They note that H-1B workers represent 1/10 of 1 percent of the entire U.S. workforce. Some opponents of the legislation question the evidence of a labor shortage and contend that any shortfall can be overcome by hiring current college graduates and retraining other workers.

With my support, the Senate passed S. 2045 on October 3, 2000, by a vote of 96-1. On the same day, the House of Representatives passed the measure unanimously, and it was signed into law by the President on October 17, 2000.

Again, thank you for contacting my office. If you have any additional questions or comments, please do not hesitate to let me know or to visit my website at


P.S. - I am pleased to invite you to be my guest at a weekly constituent breakfast if you are ever in Washington. Senator Durbin and I welcome our constituents at 8:30 a.m. every Thursday that the Senate is in session for a continental breakfast and a discussion of the issues that affect Illinois and the nation. Please call my office at (202) 224-2854 for more details.