March 22, 2013 13:06
The U.S. Congress is considering raising the annual work visa quota for Korean professionals and students from 3,500 to 10,500.
According to a source in Washington, the increase is being promoted by Democratic Rep. Eni Faleomavaega of the House Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific and Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Since they are on different sides of the House, the bill is likely to enjoy bipartisan support.
Currently, the number of H-1B visas for foreign professionals is limited to 65,000 for those with a first degree and 20,000 for those with a master's or higher.
Some 3,500 slots are assigned to Koreans, while Indians and Chinese together hold over 60 percent of the quota.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has worked to issue more visas for skilled workers under separate legislation from countries with which it has free trade agreements.
As part of that effort, Australia secured 10,500 slots for the professional visa called E-3 after singing an FTA in 2004.
Korea tried to include a similar clause during the FTA negotiations with the U.S. but failed.
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