For Indian engineers, H-1B visa is key to career growth

Rama Lakshmi, The Washington Post

BANGALORE, India — For the past three years, 32-year-old Jagadish Kumar has worked in India testing software systems before they are installed in slot machines in American casinos.

Now the curly-haired, round-eyed Indian software engineer is weeks away from appearing for a U.S. Consulate visa interview — the final step in a process that could take him to the United States with the temporary work permit called an H-1B visa.

The visa program, created in 1990 to allow highly trained professionals to work on specific projects in the United States, has become a contentious element of the comprehensive immigration reform bill the Senate approved Thursday. The bipartisan legislation would increase the annual cap on the visas from 65,000 to 110,000, and possibly up to 180,000 per year, depending on demand and the U.S. unemployment level.

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