09 February 2006

Business leader calls for US immigration reform

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During a live question and answer session hosted by prominent newspaper the Financial Times, Craig Barrett, chairman of Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor maker, called for comprehensive immigration reform to make the US more competitive.

Mr Barrett, one of a number of technology leaders including Bill Gates to have criticised restrictions on foreign workers in the US, said the first step in simplifying the immigration process would be “to replace the current arbitrary quota system with an open market type approach”.

The US’s H1-B visa allows foreign engineers and scientists to work on a temporary basis in the US but is capped at 65,000 a year. Mr Barrett said this was inadequate: the current quota had been exhausted and there could be no new admissions until another came into effect in October this year.

Mr Barrett said demand was also greater than supply for green cards that allowed permanent employment, with the cap at 140,000 a year and long processing delays meaning individuals having to wait up to seven years to obtain one.

“These arbitrary caps undercut business’s ability to hire and retain the number of highly educated people in the fields where we need to maintain our leading position,” he said.

Recently, the US green card lottery cama under fire and may cease to exist further cutting immigration nnumber to the US.


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