Microsoft lobbies for 20,000 more high-skilled visas in US

28 Sep 2012

Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice-president Brad Smith has said that a lack of qualified applicants for tech jobs in the US is becoming a genuine crisis, as the company lobbies for an additional 20,000 visas for highly skilled foreign nationals.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday, Smith said Microsoft currently has 3,400 positions available for researchers, developers and engineers in the US, but a lack of required skills is making recruitment tough.

Smith has proposed that US Congress passes legislation to invest in STEM education and he believes this can be funded by allowing 20,000 more H-1B visas, charging employers US$10,000 for every employee that receives one.

H-1B visas allow US employers to temporarily employ skilled foreign workers in speciality occupations.

Smith also suggested that 20,000 unused green cards were allocated to skilled foreign workers, charging employers US$15,000 for each employee hired under this programme. Smith believes even start-ups in the tech industry would be willing to pay the price for qualified workers in the face of the skills gap, and he hopes his proposal will be taken up by US Congress next year.

Visa image via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke
By Elaine Burke

Elaine Burke is editor of Silicon Republic, having served a few years as managing editor up to 2019. She joined in 2011 as a journalist covering gadgets, new media and tech jobs. She comes from a background in publishing and is known for being particularly pernickety when it comes to spelling and grammar – earning her the nickname, Critical Red Pen.

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