Microsoft suggests charging employers for extra worker visas

Sep 30, 2012 by Kyung M. Song

Faced with 6,000 job openings and a Congress unresponsive to admitting more skilled workers from overseas, Microsoft on Thursday offered what it hopes will be a twofer solution: charging employers hundreds of millions of dollars for the right to hire more foreigners and using the money for educational training to eventually fill those jobs with Americans.

The proposal, which Microsoft unveiled in Washington, D.C., is the company's most public foray into the protracted ideological battle over immigration reform and quotas on temporary visas for high-skill foreign workers.

Microsoft is attempting to sidestep such controversies as citizenship for that led to block a comprehensive reform bill in 2010. Instead, the Redmond, Wash.-based framed the issue in stark economic terms - in a nation beset by high , six-figure-salary jobs are going begging for qualified hires, particularly minorities.

For instance, the U.S. is expected to add an average of 120,000 computer-related jobs requiring at least a bachelor's degree for each of the next 10 years. But colleges and universities are minting half as many graduates as needed.

"It's a problem that's approaching dimensions of a genuine crisis," said Brad Smith, Microsoft executive vice president and general counsel. Smith held a briefing for reporters at Microsoft's D.C. office on K Street before his speech at the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan think tank.

Microsoft is calling on Congress to create 20,000 new H-1B visas solely for jobs in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, also called STEM. The current annual cap is 65,000 visas, about half of which are claimed for computer-related occupations. Microsoft requested an average of 4,100 H-1B visas annually between 2010 and 2011, more than any other corporation.

In addition, Microsoft wants the federal government to release 20,000 each year from a backlog of a half-million so STEM workers could remain in the United States as permanent residents. Without a green card, an H-1B visa holder's stay is limited to a total of six years.

Smith said companies could pay $10,000 for each new H-1B visa. Large employers now pay $1,500 apiece, along with several thousand dollars more in various fees. The proposed "investment" for a green card would be $15,000. Altogether, Smith said, the fees would bring in $500 million a year.

Microsoft laid out detailed plans for how that money might be deployed. It called for hiring and training more STEM teachers for kindergarten through 12th grade and making advanced placement computer-science courses available in 95 percent of U.S. high schools that currently lack them, among others things.

Smith called the new $10,000 fee for an H-1B visa a small one-time investment. A typical Microsoft programmer or software engineer hire might command a salary of $100,000 to $120,000, plus a $20,000 signing bonus. Add $50,000 in stock options, plus the cost of an office and other expenses, Smith said, and total cost might add up to $200,000.

Although the proposal is being offered by Microsoft, Smith said the plan has support from information-technology companies and trades groups.

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douglas2
3 / 5 (4) Sep 30, 2012
There are plenty of unemployed STEM workers that lost jobs in the big crash of 2009. Hire these Americans. How do you expect to get American students to pursue STEM careers when they see so many currently unemployed? Congress needs to help get Americans to work, not to make corporations more profitable by getting immigrants that are not allowed to move to a new employer for five years. These employers do not want Americans because we have the right to change jobs if the conditions or salary are better elsewhere. Sounds like they don't like the free market system.
kochevnik
3 / 5 (5) Sep 30, 2012
Corporations want cheap workers not expensive natives. Computer graduate from abroad may work for $60K and happily pay $2000 rent on apartment and $600 on car monthly because they have no concept of money management in developed world. Then after some years they return to their home with very little. They company culture can be shit because everyone works with their own ethnic group. No longer are their two or three ethnicities now there are dozens. These workers will not blend into the "melting pot." Either they will sink into the corporate culture which is a place for underachievers unwilling to strike out on their own, or they will seek out their ethnic identity abroad.
VendicarD
3 / 5 (4) Sep 30, 2012
Microsoft does extensive testing of it's potential workforce, and finds that those Americans are unqualified and inferior.

"There are plenty of unemployed STEM workers that lost jobs in the big crash of 2009. Hire these Americans" - doug
Shakescene21
4.7 / 5 (3) Sep 30, 2012
Microsoft should set up its own two-year training programs to produce the skilled workers they want. When he was young Bill Gates realized that his 4-year degree program had too much extraneous stuff and was wasting his time.
VendicarD
1 / 5 (1) Oct 01, 2012
Impossible.

"Microsoft should set up its own two-year training programs to produce the skilled workers they want." - Shakescene21

If training a workforce were possible, everyone would be doing it.
alfie_null
not rated yet Oct 01, 2012
An alternative would be to raise the salaries of its engineers until the company attracts sufficient prospective employees. Their quoted $10000, amortized over the expected span of an employment (what? $1000 - $2000 per year?) is, no doubt, far less.

Ultimately, raising salaries would also encourage students' decisions with regard to courses of study. No need for government involvement (i.e. public schools), and no need to try to artificially control education and career selection.

You know, supply and demand.
douglas2
not rated yet Oct 01, 2012
Americans are unqualified and inferior. Vendicar


This is an emerging concept within MBA class. They want to globalize, and will create any study results to "confirm" this for congress. They will do anything to retain executive talent, but consider scientists and engineers are just inferior.
John_balls
not rated yet Oct 01, 2012
What ever happened to training people for the positions that they need? There are an abundance of student graduating with information technology , computer science and information systems majors that won't have jobs when they finish school.
VendicarD
1 / 5 (1) Oct 01, 2012
"An alternative would be to raise the salaries of its engineers until the company attracts sufficient prospective employees." - Alfie

They attract lots of qualified people now. They just aren't allowed to enter the country as workers.

Americans simply are not qualified to work for Microsoft.

VendicarD
1 / 5 (1) Oct 01, 2012
"What ever happened to training people for the positions that they need?" - John Balls

Everyone knows that it's the Gubderments job to train workers for every skill needed on every job.

What else is Gubderment for?

"There are an abundance of student graduating with information technology , computer science and information systems majors that won't have jobs when they finish school." - John Balls

But they just aren't qualified unless they have 5 years experience interfacing xml through java filters to crystal reports and it's SOAP interface to SQL server running on a virtualized Microsoft server 2010.

Governmet is just not training people with the skill set that is needed.
VendicarD
1 / 5 (1) Oct 01, 2012
When all you value is money, those with money are the only people of value.

"They will do anything to retain executive talent, but consider scientists and engineers are just inferior." - douglas2