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Microsoft has its own plan for immigrant visas for highly skilled workers | Employment Immigration Attorney Jim Hacking

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Many different stakeholders are trying to give Congress their input on the immigration reform bill that legislators will begin working on at the beginning of next year. Microsoft has come up with a proposal that focuses on helping highly skilled workers gain access to the technology industry in the U.S.

The State of Washington is facing a huge labor shortage in its high-tech sector. The state is focusing on educating and preparing children ages 3 to 23 to enter into careers such as science, technology, math and engineering. But meanwhile, the state lacks people to fill these positions and funds are limited. Microsoft offered a solution to this shortage of labor to the government. “The Redmond-based software giant needs 6,000 workers nationwide — 3,400 of those jobs are for researchers, developers and engineers." Microsoft suggests the government lifts the cap set on H-1B visas for foreign workers by 20,000 slots.  They also propose that 20,000 more green cards be made available for highly skilled workers allowing them to stay in the U.S.

Similar technology companies are in favor of Microsoft’s proposal. They recognize the need for more workers educated in STEM jobs. “In exchange, tech companies would pay higher fees, from $2,325 per foreign hire now to $10,000 per visa or $15,000 per green card.” The money would then be invested in furthering education in STEM areas. In addition to Federal Race to the Top grants, $500 million would be raised annually towards education projects.  Microsoft’s proposal is beneficial to the company, but it also prepares American children for future jobs in the evolving technology sector.

According to the tech giant, universities nationwide are not producing enough technology graduates to meet the market’s demands. Microsoft warns that if the shortage continues, in the following year the company will be forced to fill these jobs outside the U.S. There are plenty of immigrants who are educated and willing to work for Microsoft but the current immigration laws will not allow their employment.

Another important piece of legislation the government should look at fully adopting is the DREAM Act. The young immigrants that are brought to the U.S. illegally as children should be given the opportunity to live productive lives. Expanding guest-worker programs to attracted highly skilled talent is supported by both parties in Congress. Whether or not Congress will act directly based off Microsoft’s proposal will be determined early next year.

There is a growing need for immigrants in the U.S. Many are already living here yet unable to take the opportunities because of restricting immigration laws. Hopefully legislators will take into account the market needs and the cooperation and willingness of American companies to support immigrants who are qualified to work in a high demand market.

If you have questions regarding working for an American company or acquiring an H-1B visa, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.

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