Microsoft wants the number of H1-B visas to be increased
Microsoft has announced that during the last year it could not fill approximately 6000 vacancies in the US. Around 3400 of these were IT positions. As a result of this the company is pressing the US immigration authorities for two major changes. The first one is to expand the scope of the H1-B non-immigrant visa program and the second one is to increase the number of green cards that are issued to foreign IT workers. It suggests that US companies should buy H-1B visas and green cards. This would enable them to find the staff they need and the money could be used to fund training for US IT students to prevent a similar skills shortage in future. Currently there is a limit of 60 000 H1-B visas per year. An additional 20 000 can be granted to people with masters degrees or above. Many American employers call for increase of the limit, but the US labour unions worry that the H1-B visas could be used for importing cheap labor and undercutting local salaries. At the same time some people worry that the possibility to import IT workers from abroad will diminish the incentives for US to train its own IT specialist locally.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president delivered some prepared remarks at Washington’s Brookings Institution in September 2012 in which he said ‘Our nation faces a paradox of a crisis in unemployment at the same time that many companies cannot fill the jobs they have to offer…We risk these jobs migrating from the US, creating even bigger challenges for our long-term competitiveness and economic growth.’
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