Industry Battles Government over Immigrant IT Workers

Tuesday, April 16, 2013
A Nation of Immigrants by Frances Giron (photo: finaeartamerica.com)

Fed up with what they say are outdated immigration laws, Silicon Valley executives are pressuring Washington to make the process easier for thousands of engineers and other highly trained workers to enter and remain in the United States.

 

Well-known industry leaders like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and John T. Chambers of Cisco are personally involved in the lobbying effort to convince Congress to reach a comprehensive immigration deal, which could come as early as next week.

 

Companies want lawmakers to approve a fast-track green card line for math and science graduates, regardless of what country they come from. They also seek about a doubling of H-1B visas for temporary workers.

 

The Senate is debating a legislative proposal to eliminate the per-country quotas for those who graduate from U.S. universities with math, science and engineering degrees.

 

These reforms could really impact applicants from countries India and China that have a large supply of engineers often educated in American universities who have struggled to attain permanent residence in the U.S.

 

While the nation’s unemployment rate is still high, joblessness in the technology sector is much lower (less than 4%) due to the high demand for skilled labor, which helps to explain why Zuckerberg and others leaders want Washington to act.

 

According to Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith, “The American economy creates 120,000 new computer-related jobs annually that require a bachelor’s degree, but we are currently producing about 51,000 graduates with a degree in computer science each year.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

Tech Firms Push to Hire More Workers From Abroad (by Somni Sengupta, New York Times)

US Visa Day Sparks New Debate On IT Pros (by Manmohan, Outsource Blog)

The Jobs Machine (The Economist)

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