SEMI Commends Representative John Shadegg for Introducing the Securing Knowledge Innovation and Leadership Act
SEMI Urges Permanent Resolution to H-1B Visa and Green Card Issue
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Friday, June 30, 2006 – SEMI applauds Representative John Shadegg (R-AZ) for introducing H.R. 5744 Securing Knowledge, Innovation, and Leadership Act (SKIL Bill) in the House of Representatives. SEMI is also grateful for the support of Representatives John Campbell (R-CA), Mike Conaway (R-TX), John T. Doolittle (R-CA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Mike Pence (R-IN), John Shimkus (R-IL) and Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) who are original cosponsors of the bill.
The SKIL Bill contains critical H-1B visa and employment based (EB) visa green card provisions that will increase the number of available H-1B visas for highly educated temporary workers from 65,000 to 115,000 and implement a market-based system, which would allow for future cap increases if they are needed. The bill will also increase the number of available green cards, as well as exempt immigrant spouses and children from the annual cap. Additionally, it will exempt highly educated foreign nationals with advanced degrees from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering or mathematics from both H-1B cap and EB visa caps. The SKIL Bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) in May (S. 2691). SEMI also supports the legal immigration provisions within the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill that address the H-1B visa and green card issues.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on June 1, 2006 that the H-1B visas allotted for fiscal year 2007 reached the cap of 65,000 four months prior to the start of the fiscal year. This is the third consecutive year the cap has been reached prior to the beginning of the new fiscal year. Furthermore, the cap has been reached eight times in the last ten years before the end of the fiscal year.
SEMI North America President, Victoria Hadfield said, “SEMI is concerned about access to highly educated workers, particularly those who possess Masters and PhDs in mathematics, engineering and science. These individuals are among those who will make the technological breakthroughs of tomorrow.” She continued, “the number of American students pursuing these degrees has been on the decline; therefore, it is critical to the U.S. economy and our national competitiveness that we have an efficient immigration system that welcomes highly-educated foreign nationals to the U.S. workforce. We greatly appreciate Rep. Shadegg’s leadership to address this challenge.”
In 2003 SEMI established the SEMI Foundation to support education and increase awareness of the field of high technology among high school students. The SEMI Foundation’s highly successful High Tech University (HTU) program addresses the workforce development issue of fewer students pursuing degrees in math, science, and engineering from an industry perspective. To date over 1,400 students have attended 44 HTU programs. “The HTU program exposes students and parents to the potential high-tech career opportunities available. SEMI finds that this exposure and a business style of approach to math and science helps motivate students to study and excel in these subjects.” Hadfield added, “educational and scholarship programs such as this may provide a long term solution. The SKIL Bill is a much needed immediate solution to address this problem.”
“The present immigration system is outdated and needs to be overhauled to ensure that engineering and science graduates in key disciplines are able to pursue their careers in the United States. SEMI urges Congress to enact legislation to address these issues before the end of the 109th Congress,” concluded Hadfield.
SEMI is a global industry association serving companies that provide equipment, materials and services used to manufacture semiconductors, displays, nano-scaled structures, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and related technologies. SEMI maintains offices in Austin, Beijing, Brussels, Hsinchu, Moscow, San Jose (Calif.), Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.semi.org.