08 November 2011

Facebook blames America visa policy for skills shortage

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Leading American businesswoman and Chief Operating Officer at Facebook Sheryl Sandberg has spoken out about the implications of the America visa and immigration system for the availability of skilled graduates.

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says the US should offer visas to top engineering and technology graduates.

Speaking to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in a joint interview with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg said the restrictions on obtaining an America visa are causing technology and online corporations to compete for top engineering and technology graduates.

The fierce competition between firms for skilled recruits - described by the Financial Times as the "Silicon Valley talent war" - could be solved by making it easier for skilled foreigners to obtain a US visa, Ms Sandberg said.

Sandberg said the US should be "stapling a visa to every high-tech diploma" it issues to foreign students to ensure their skills are retained by American companies.

"Those people, not only do they not take jobs from other Americans, they create jobs for other Americans if we could keep them here," she said.

Sandberg is also a member of the Obama Administration's Council of Jobs and Competitiveness, which advises the President on strategy for jobs growth and ensuring the American economy remains globally competitive.

In October, the council handed down a report recommending a number of immigration policy changes including a liberalisation of US visa rules to make it easier for top graduates to stay in the United States.

The comments by Sandberg follow other similar public statements of support for visa reform by high profile business figures such as General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt and New York City Mayor and multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg earlier this year.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people with their ESTA visa application.

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