Recently when we have talked about employment issues regarding immigrants, they have centered on the decline of immigrant entrepreneurs and workers in the U.S. — something that affects the economy, as high-skilled immigrants look to other countries to obtain work opportunities or to invent the next Google. At the same time, our immigration laws remain stagnant towards visa caps for immigrant works, placing hard ceilings on the number of H-1B visas that can be issued.
H-1B visas are for professional working immigrants, granting them temporary status here in the U.S. Sometimes it can be a pathway to permanent residence, but that isn’t a guarantee. Nor is it a guarantee that someone will get an H-1B visa — there are 65,000 allotted per year to U.S. companies, though some provisions allow for the ceiling to be exceeded.
Well Microsoft wants to change this limiting outlook for immigrant workers and revise some of the rules regarding H-1B visas.
Microsoft’s plan is threefold. First, they believe the H-1B visa cap should be increased by 20,000 to 85,000, with this increase coming from special consideration to STEM candidates (people who excel in science, technology, engineering and math). Second, they want to increase the fee associated with H-1B visas to fund federal grants. And third, Microsoft wants 20,000 additional green cards available for STEM employees; giving the immigrant the potential to stay in the U.S. for the long haul and giving U.S. companies the chance to retain highly-skilled immigrant workers.
Some aspects of the plan may be more effective than others — after all, we recently talked about how increased visa application fees discourage people from actually applying. But the ideas are certainly sound ones, aimed at improving the country while offering more immigrants the chance to make their dreams come true.
Source: Seattle Times, “Microsoft’s thoughtful plan on jobs, immigration and H-1B visa permits,” Lynne Varner, Sept. 27, 2012