Kaplan was a driving force behind pressing the lawmakers to include the green-card exception, according to people familiar with the deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private meetings.
Another Facebook lobbyist, Louisa Terrell, formerly a White House legislative liaison under President Obama, met with staff in the offices of Sens. Schumer and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) regarding the H1B issue, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Facebook has other staff members with deep Washington connections. The chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, and the vice president of global public policy, Marne Levine, both served at separate times as chief of staff for Lawrence H. Summers, the former Obama economic adviser.
Facebook’s Washington muscle was on display last month, when Sandberg came to town to promote her new book, “Lean In.” A book party thrown for her drew such people as White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and FTC commissioner Julie Brill. Ample security and black SUVs parked in front indicated the high-powered crowd inside. (The Post’s Graham was among the co-hosts.)
Advocates for the workaround in the immigration bill said that a number of U.S. high-tech firms were at risk of crossing the threshold for being labeled “dependent” on H1B visas.
“It isn’t just one company,” said Scott Corley, executive director of Compete America, a high-tech coalition that includes Microsoft, Google and Intel.
Without the exception, Corley added, some firms might be forced to pay foreign workers more than U.S. employees performing the same jobs.
Yet critics of the H1B program say the visas put many foreign workers at a deep disadvantage. They tend to get paid less
and cannot easily leave the companies that brought them to the United States unless they obtain green cards. In addition to proposed higher wages, the Senate plan seeks to protect U.S. workers by prohibiting U.S. companies from displacing Americans with foreign employees.
Bruce Morrison, a lobbyist for U.S. electrical engineers, said the Facebook provision creates a substantial loophole. The measure requires only that green-card applications be at least “pending” — meaning U.S. government approval is not necessary for a temporary H1B worker to be classified as permanent by a company seeking to avoid stricter regulations.
“It could just be a matter of paper pushing,” said Morrison, a former Democratic congressman from Connecticut who wrote key pieces of the H1B visa law in 1990. “All you have to do is file a piece of paper, which doesn’t even have to be approved or approvable.”
Cecilia Kang and David Nakamura contributed to this report.