Population Research and Policy Review 20: 135–141, 2001. © 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands. THOMAS J. ESPENSHADE Ofﬁce of Population Research, Princeton University The 1990 Immigration Act (IMMACT) responded to claims of an impend- ing shortage of skilled labor in the United States (Johnston & Packer 1987) and to growing concerns that the skill levels of immigrant workers were falling farther and farther behind those of natives (Borjas 1990, 1994). IM- MACT raised the annual number of employment-based permanent resident visas from 54,000 to 140,000 and created a new temporary-worker cat- egory (H-1B) to permit US employers to recruit skilled workers from abroad for professional ‘specialty occupations’. The latter include, for example, computer programmers, engineers, medical professionals, and accountants. H-1B workers must have at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, and they may remain in the United States for up to six years. In 1990 Congress decided to cap the number of newly admitted H-1B workers at 65,000 per year. This ceiling proved sufﬁcient for most of the 1990s, but the growing demand for H-1B workers created a visa shortage in ﬁscal year (FY) 1997 and again in 1998 (Martin 1999). The FY 98 ceiling
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2004
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