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Microsoft wants 20,000 extra green cards per year too

Microsoft is willing to pay the U.S. government for additional H-1B worker visas, saying there aren't enough skilled Americans to fill its available job openings.
 
More specifically, it suggested that the government raise $500 million a year by tacking on an extra $10,000 fee for each newly created H-1B visa or $15,000 for each new green card. This money can then be used to offer better education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for Americans. Microsoft noted that not enough Americans are skilled in these areas to keep up with demand.

In addition to raising the number of visas offered, Microsoft wants the government to give 20,000 extra green cards per year.

H-1B visas allow foreign workers to come to the U.S. temporarily to work in their field. They can renew their visas every three years. Green cards, on the other hand, allow foreign workers to live in the country permanently. Currently, the government offers 65,000 visas a year, but in the past has seen numbers as high as 195,000.

Microsoft is one of the largest sponsors when it comes to H-1B visas. Ten percent of its 57,400 U.S. workforce are H-1B visa holders. From 2010 to 2011, it applied for about 850 visas annually for new employees on their very first H-1B visa. In 2011, Microsoft sponsored over 4,700 H-1B workers for green cards.

Many worry, however, that Microsoft is just looking for cheap labor. An issue is that Microsoft and other corporations don't need to prove that there aren't skilled Americans to fill these jobs. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) even warned that there are "inadequate safeguards" that protect skilled Americans from being booted out of jobs for cheaper foreign workers.

"The biggest myth people have is that a company like Microsoft somehow looks to foreign workers as an easy supply to displace American workers," said Karen Jones, Microsoft's deputy general counsel for human resources. "We simply cannot find qualified Americans to fill these jobs."

An analysis of Microsoft's green card applications shows that 25 percent were entry-level workers and 61 percent were a step up as software engineers or marketing managers. Most hold technical jobs, but most also make fewer than six figures while many graduates usually demand over $100,000 annual salaries.

Source: The Seattle Times





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