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US opens doors to IT experts from the sub-continent

The IT skills shortage in the US has forced its government to change the rules on immigration. Hundreds of thousands more visas will be issued for expatriate IT experts.

The American dream looks set to come true for up to 260,000 IT-skilled expatriates over the next two years.

The US is poised to open the floodgates to expatriate workers as it fights to meet the country's demand for hi-tech employees.

A bill currently working its way through the Senate will raise the cap on the number of H-1B hi-tech worker visas the United States will issue: 80,000 for this year, 87,500 for next year, and 130,000 for 2002.

Once the bill is passed, US companies are expected to rush to countries like Egypt, India and Jordan where universities are turning out more IT-skilled graduates than local markets can absorb.

While an increase in H-1B visas will certainly help with the short-term IT labor shortage, critics say it does not go far enough. If the US government wanted to fill every IT vacacy from overseas it would have to issue as many as one million visas.

Meanwhile, an ammendement to the H-1B visa bill calls for America to do more to solve its IT skills shortage itself. The amendment calls for $20 million in annual funding for six years to Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The money would pay for equipment and staff to teach technology.