Microsoft Takes Lead on H-1B Front

Posted October 4, 2012

Microsoft corporation last week unveiled a public proposal of its own devise that would create an additional 20,000 H-1B visas for foreign employment in occupations in the STEM categories (science, tech, engineering, math).  Current law allows for 65,000.  Brad Smith, general counsel of Microsoft, suggests that willing U.S. employers might be willing to pay up to $10,000 in fees for each placed worker, producing additional government revenue of $500 million a year.  The U.S faces a projected shortfall of approximately half of 120,000 computer-related positions requiring a bachelor’s degree expected to materialize over the next ten years.  The company’s proposal would also allow issuance of up to 20,000 additional green cards a year to STEM workers caught in the 6-year H-1B cap no-mans land, with numbers drawn from existing unused pools.

This is a sensible approach that overlays market demands in a new economy on established immigration preferences under outdated law – not to mention, cuts into the federal deficit. Can business needs be tethered to sensible comprehensive reform, or should Microsoft be seen as a special interest?  It’s up to Congress and the president.