June 12, 2008 / 10:08 PM / 10 years ago

Bachelor congressman wants special visa for models

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York congressman who has been romantically linked by tabloid newspapers to several high-profile, beautiful women, is one step closer to creating a special work permit for foreign fashion models.

Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) questions a witness at the U.S House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations about the health effects of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York, September 8, 2006. REUTERS/Nicholas Roberts

Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner, a 43-year-old bachelor, has proposed legislation giving international beauties their own U.S. visa category, rather than have them compete with computer analysts and scientists for the non-immigrant H-1B visa for skilled professionals.

“From Fashion Week to our vibrant publishing industry to the many designers that call New York City home, fashion is a vital part of our economy that drives thousands of jobs,” Weiner said in an email to Reuters.

The New York Post recently romantically linked Weiner to Huma Abedin, who was recently featured in Vogue magazine.

Weiner introduced his proposal in the House late last year which has not yet been scheduled for a vote, though it was recently referred to the Committee of the Whole, where less rigid rules allow bills to be passed quicker.

The bill aims to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to create a separate category for fashion models, and would limit the number of visas to 1,000 for each fiscal year, according to a document that accompanies the bill.

The number of international models who were issued H-1B visas has halved to 349 in the 2007 fiscal year, from nearly 800 a few years ago according to the document.

About 60 percent of U.S. fashion shoots involving international models are managed out of New York City, said Bruce Morrison, a former congressman who represents the U.S. fashion industry in the bill proposal.

“The reason this bill is important is not so the model can come to the United States, it’s so the production can be done in the United States,” Morrison said.

“She’s the engine but the train is all of these American workers. If the model can’t come here, it goes on ... somewhere abroad,” Morrison said, about fashion shoots.

Editing by Michelle Nichols

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