Tight US Immigration Forces Outsourcing: Bill Gates

AFP, March 12, 2008

US high-tech companies are being forced to outsource more jobs overseas because of outdated restrictions on immigration, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates told Congress Wednesday.

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“Congress’s failure to pass high-skilled immigration reform has exacerbated an already grave situation,” Gates said in remarks prepared for delivery to a hearing of the House of Representatives Science and Technology Committee.

“As a result, many US firms, including Microsoft, have been forced to locate staff in countries that welcome skilled foreign workers to do work that could otherwise have been done in the United States, if it were not for our counterproductive immigration policies.”

Gates said the limits on so-called H-1B visas aimed at highly skilled professionals are far too low for the rapidly growing tech sector.

He said the current cap of 65,000 H-1B visas “is arbitrarily set and bears no relation to the US economy’s demand for skilled professionals.”

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“If we increase the number of H-1B visas that are available to US companies, employment of US nationals would likely grow as well. For instance, Microsoft has found that for every H-1B hire we make, we add on average four additional employees to support them in various capacities.”

Gates also said the United States needs to improve science and math education to train a new generation of tech leaders, reversing a move away from these fields.

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