Microsoft has come up with a solution that they think could help divert a potential employment crisis: pay the government for the right to hire more highly skilled foreigners. Redmond is petitioning Congress to grant 20,000 new H-1B visas and 20,000 more specifically for jobs in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). The current cap is set at 65,000 for H-1B visas in addition to 20,000 reserved for foreign students that have received a masters degree or higher from a US-based university.
Microsoft is in a precarious position as they have 6,000 unfilled jobs in an economy where some Americans are having a tough time finding work. The problem that Redmond and several other companies are facing is that there simply aren’t enough high-skill workers in the US to go around.
It’s an issue that has been partially rectified in previous years by hiring foreign help but the growing number of technical job openings combined with a tight limit on the number of visas and green cards issued could be leading to what Microsoft executive vice president and general counsel Brad Smith describes as a genuine crisis.
Smith recently proposed that companies pay $10,000 per worker hired under a STEM-specific H-1B visa program and $15,000 for each green card given to foreign workers. It’s a move the VP believes could raise $500 million per year – money the government could then reinvest in STEM-specific educational programs in states that need it the most.