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Microsoft is pushing for legislation in the US to get 20,000 supplementary H-1B visas to be allocated for foreign personnel with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills. Along with that, it wants the US Congress to reallocate 20,000 green cards for workers with these skills.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel & executive vice president, legal & corporate affairs proposed these two reforms in a bog post yesterday. This is the company’s plan to tackle the problem of lack of skilled American workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
In his post, Smith stated: “First, Congress should create a new, supplemental category with 20,000 visas annually for STEM skills that are in short supply. In addition, Congress should take advantage of prior unused green cards by making a supplemental allocation of 20,000 new green card slots for workers with STEM skills.”
Microsoft has proposed that the company’s which use the H-1B visas from this supplementary pool should pay $10,000 for each employee who gets the visa, while green card approval will entail a fee of $15,000 on the company’s part. Smith said, “We believe this approach could raise up to $500 million per year – or $5 billion over a decade.” He said that the amount could be divided between states where STEM education is most needed.
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This proposal is a step towards fixing the skill gap problem that US companies face. Microsoft itself has 3,400 vacancies for engineers, developers and researchers, an increase of 34% over last year. Smith said unless corrective measures are taken, technology jobs, not only of Microsoft but other companies’ as well, can move away from the US.