18 April 2012

Microsoft wades into US visa row

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Just days after India lodged a complaint to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) regarding the perceived discrimination against Indian applicants for a US visa, Microsoft has waded into the argument by claiming Indian employees are vital to American business.

US visa

Microsoft have said the ability to bring in foreign workers is vital to American business.

India lodged their complaint to the WTO in the midst of tightening regulations surround US visa applications from foreign workers, claiming rejection rates are disproportionately high compared to those from other countries.

While rejection rates for Indian applicants did indeed rise from the 2 or 3% levels consistent with other countries such as the UK and France to over 20% in recent years, the US maintains an increasing preference for domestic workers before outsourcing to Indian firms is the reason the increase and not discrimination against Indian workers.

As the majority of the visa applications come from employees in India's burgeoning IT industry, Microsoft has now entered the argument and claimed Indian employees are vital to not just their business, but American business.

"While the vast majority of our US workforce is comprised of US workers, the individuals we employ in H-1B status, educated at some of the best universities in the US and around the world, are crucial to our business," said Brad Smith of Microsoft's Legal and Corporate Affairs.

Microsoft is urging the US Senate to consider America's competitiveness in the IT market and pass a bill which would protect this.

Microsoft's persistence would appear to be supported by several studies which demonstrate the importance of US immigration to the American economy and labour market.

"Studies have repeatedly confirmed that many of these immigrant professionals will go on, in greater number than our American workforce, to develop patents, create businesses and provide a net job growth to our economy," said Laura Danielson, a Minnesota-based immigration lawyer.

The H-1B visa allows foreign workers to live and work in the US for a specific period of time. Applications for 2013 opened at the start of April and US immigration officials have confirmed that almost half the 65,000 limit have already been allocated.


The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.

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