Silicon Valley Foreign Worker Search Speeds Up After Lull

Technology firms have tripled their recruitment of foreign workers this spring after a hiring lull of several years — a development that is reigniting the debate over immigration rules affecting those workers.

American companies sought more than 32,500 temporary H-1B visas, available for skilled workers, since the annual recruiting period began in April. That is about triple the number sought by the same time last year.

“The demand for the visas is going up,” said Emily Lam of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a business advocate.

The H-1B program remains perennially debated, with businesses arguing they need the skilled workers and opponents saying the foreign recruits displace American workers and undercut wages. Currently, 85,000 such visas may be granted each year, with 20,000 set aside for foreign students graduating from U.S. universities. Many businesses argue for a higher cap.

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