16 May 2006

Microsoft, Intel call for higher H-1B Visa cap

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Microsoft and Intel are among technology companies calling for the United States Government to allow more highly skilled workers into the country by raising current immigration caps, otherwise they may be forced to move jobs abroad.

The threat comes as the Senate was due to resume debating the Immigration Reform bill that makes provision to nearly double the number of H-1B visas issued from it's current rate of 65,000 per annum to 115,000.

Failure to lift the cap could see highly paid IT development jobs move to countries with less stringent immigration controls.

"We have a couple thousand open technical spots that we cannot find people to fill," Jack Krumholtz, managing director of government affairs for Microsoft told Bloomberg News, adding that if the situation persists, "we're going to have to do more of our development work abroad."

The cap on H-1B visas rose to 195,000 per year in 2001 after Congress responded to increased demand from technology companies, but it was lowered to its current levels when pressure to fill positions in the in the technology sector cooled in 2004.

Demand for the visas exhausted the 2006 supply two months before the year began.

Intel have already begun placing employees away from its US base, with Canada, Ireland and Israel being the main beneficiaries, and are threatening it will continue unless businesses are able to solve their skills shortages by bringing in skilled migrants from abroad.

The American H1B Visa is one of the most sought after temporary non-immigrant visas, as it allows qualified foreign workers entry into America for the purpose of undertaking employment. This visa only applies to certain foreign workers, and requires that the American employer petition the United States Citizen and Immigration Service on behalf of the prospective foreign employee.

For more information on the H-1B Visa, and to see if you may be eligible, click here.

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