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Silicon Valley Worker Leads Charge To Overhaul Employment-Based Visas

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An employee works on his desktop computer. (Liu Gin/AFP/Getty Images)

SAN JOSE (KCBS) – A bill is working its way through Capitol Hill that would do away with country quotas for employment-based visas. It’s legislation with deep ties to the Bay Area: not only does Silicon Valley employ many of the workers that are in the country on H-1B visas, but a high tech worker in Silicon Valley is helping to lead this charge for change.

Anand Sundaram, one of the founders of the Santa Clara-based Immigration Voice, has even garnered the support of Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), who co-authored the legislation.

KCBS’ Mark Seelig Reports:

Right now, country “quotas” factor into the H-1B visa decision process. Specifically, some countries – like China and India – are deemed by the U.S. as oversubscribed, meaning a qualified candidate from one of those countries has to wait longer for his or her employment-based visa, while candidates from undersubscribed countries jump to the head of the line.

The quotas are decades old, and now translate into years-long waits for some candidates.

That might change, depending on the outcome of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, which is working its way through Capitol Hill. The House of Representatives voted 389-15 to approve the legislation in late November.

Its fate in the Senate remains unclear at this point.

“All we are trying to do is realign them in such a way that countries with high demand are treated the same ways as countries with no demand,” reasoned Sundaram.

He estimates he has spent more than 6 years as a novice lobbyist, with multiple visits to Washington, D.C. fighting for his cause.

“Going from office to office, meeting great senators and congressmen and congresswomen,” he recalled.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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