MICROSOFT LAYS OFF WORKERS, BUT WANTS MORE H-1B VISAS!

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Microsoft just laid off workers here in the US, but is complaining they can’t bring in more workers from outside the US via H-1B visas. These visas allow companies to bring in people with certain skill sets into the country to work. These people are given a green card and become permanent residents. It seems that Microsoft prefers them to US citizens.

What Microsoft and the industry is saying

Here, via Computer World, is what is being said on this issue by Microsoft and people of the computing community.

A two-day conference on high-skilled immigration policy, which attracted researchers from the U.S. and Europe, offered Microsoft an opportunity to voice frustration over U.S. immigration policy.

William Kamela, a senior federal policy lead at Microsoft who detailed the stakes and options his company faces, said the firm will apply for “roughly” 1,000 H-1B visas in next April’s application period. “And we will get maybe 50% of those,” assuming there is another visa lottery, he said. Lotteries are held once the overall 85,000 cap is exceeded.

The company’s argument for access to more high-skilled foreign workers seems unaffected by its recent layoffs, even if the number of H-1B workers it seeks next year is potentially smaller than in some previous years. In 2013, Microsoft, for instance, received approval for 1,048 H-1B visas.

Microsoft is cutting about 14% of its workforce. The focus, instead, was on a need to find people with desired skills.

“At the end of the day, you do run into the very real reality that there are small numbers of folks in very select areas that a lot of companies want that we just can’t find,” said Kamela.

The National Academies held the conference, and Microsoft, along with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, were the sponsors. Microsoft was the only tech firm to appear on a panel.

Kamela sat next to Felicia Escobar, special assistant to President Barack Obama on immigration, on the panel. Kamela made it clear that Microsoft could shift some work to Canada or overseas — options for other multinationals who are in search of talent, he said.

While it is well known that getting the right skills does not have a boundary, it is a slap in the face of the US that Microsoft is being this demanding. Demanding to bring in foreign workers after massive layoffs shows where the company’s priorities are. There is too high of an unemployment rate for any company to demand we make it higher. Especially as more and more skilled US workers are having to become freelance or take work in other fields.

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