Proposed

The Immigration Innovation Act of 2013, announced by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), would increase the cap of H1-B visas from 65,000 to 115,000 or higher. According to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, the bipartisan group’s measure would be for foreign professionals working for biopharmaceutical companies and U.S. tech employers.

The measure also states that if the cap is reached within 45 days after petitions are accepted by businesses to hire immigrant workers, the cap will increase by 20,000. That number decreases after 60, 90 and 185 days to a cap of 15,000, 10,000 and 5,000 H1-B visas, respectively.

The visa cap applies to private biopharma ceutical and tech companies, but it excludes non-profits such as research institutions or universities. Because the demand for biological and life scientists is so high, the increased visa cap will allow businesses to hire the best candidate for the position, whether he or she is a foreign-native or U.S. citizen.

“People don’t like to put their lives on hold, whether they’re from outside the United States or the United States. If you know you’re stuck for the next four to nine years, basically in the same job, it makes it really unattractive to immigrate to the United States,” Edward Litwin, founder of an immigration law firm, told GEN. “It’s the private companies that are really struggling. That may be a strong term, but they want the best person. And if the best person happens to be from India or from England, they want to hire that person.”

This measure was introduced almost immediately following President Barack Obama’s speech on the need for immigration reform on Jan. 29, and one day after the release of the immigration outline from a group of eight senators.