Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates combines mastery of details and persuasive logic to argue in favor of increased skilled immigration to the United States. Pay attention to the bit about the current calendar for transitioning from a student (F-1 OPT) to a skilled work (H-1B) visa:
Gates to Congress: Microsoft needs more H-1B visas
Disputing claims that skilled immigrants would cost American jobs, Gates argued that Microsoft hires four Americans for supporting roles for every high-skilled H-1B visa holder it hires. He also cited a study by a Virginia-based group that found a similar pattern held in other American high-tech companies.
Gates singled out the timing of the H-1B process for particular criticism. Visas for the coming year become available each April, and immigrants are permitted to begin work in October. Because a college degree is required before a worker can apply for an H-1B visa, foreign students who graduate from an American university in May are forced to wait until October of the following year to begin work at an American company. Not surprisingly, many highly skilled workers choose to take jobs outside of the US rather than wait for 18 months for the opportunity to take a job in the US.
Finally, Gates urged changes that would dramatically increase the number of skilled workers who could achieve permanent residency status in the US. In addition to the H-1B visa increase, he advocated an easier process for highly skilled immigrant workers to become permanent residents, and the elimination of country-based quotas for the issuance of green cards.
Let’s hope Congress listens to Bill Gates, and a pro-immigration candidate is elected this November.