A major engineering group has formally taken a position against increasing the cap on visas for design professionals and other technically skilled workers. The National Society of Professional Engineers' board of directors on Jan. 19 approved a statement opposing a hike in the current cap on H-1B visas. The limit on such visas had been 195,000, but because no new legislation passed Congress last year, the H-1B cap reverted to its earlier level of 65,000.

The recommendation that the NSPE board approved during its winter meeting in Washington, says, "In NSPE's view, the H-1B program decreases the use of P.E.'s and allows engineers, who are not trained in U.S. ethical practices, to perform engineering services, which is detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare."
In another action, the NSPE board approved a statement saying that "outsourcing" of engineering to foreign countries "should be done only when the talent cannot be found in the United States."


If engineering is outsourced, NSPE added, "it should be done using the same rules, regulations and laws that employers and employees are subject to in the U.S." and "should be done without jeopardizing national security...."

The group also says that certain conditions should be applied when a registered professional engineer considers signing and sealing documents that were not prepared in his presence. Such work, NSPE says, should follow the statutes of the state where the project is located and in accord with that state's licensing board and follow "the applicable code of ethics."

NSPE also says, "The engineer must not be placed under duress to sign and seal documents that he or she does not feel are appropriately prepared," and adds that the engineer should "respect the need to apply the appropriate national security precautions."