Bill Gates is for big raise in H-1B visas

S Rajagopalan

Washington, March 21, 2006

Flying into Washington DC on a rare visit, Microsoft chief Bill
Gates has added his powerful voice to the demand that US Congress clear
the decks for a hefty increase in the number of H-1B visas.

faced with the shortage of Indian and other foreign techies, decided to
come down to the US capital and personally lobby for an end to visa
woes that have affected the operations of Microsoft and other US giants.

visit came amid moves to come up with a legislation in the Senate to
raise the H-1B cap from 65,000 visas a year to 115,000, with a built-in
provision for 20% increase every year. “The high skills immigration
issue is by far the No. 1 thing. This is gigantic for us,” the world’s
richest man told the Washington Post and pointed to the irony
of Indian techies having to go back after doing advanced computer
courses in the US because of the visa shortage.

“It’s kind of
ironic to have somebody graduate from Stanford Computer Science
Department and there’s not enough H1B visas, so they have to go back to
India,” he said, adding: “And I have people who have been hired, who
are just sitting on the border waiting.”

Beginning fiscal 2004,
the H-1B visas are down to 65,000 from a peak of 195,000 allowed for
the preceding three years. The drop is so precipitous that the whole
H-1B quota is now exhausted well before the start of the fiscal year.

grumbled that he has a hard time understanding the logic of those who
decry the outsourcing of American jobs, but are still reluctant to the
entry of high-skilled people who are catalysts for US growth.

the move to raise the H-1B cap, Gates backs the Bush administration’s
plan to boost the teaching of math and science in US high schools as
part of the long-term goal to expand the supply of qualified Americans
for tech jobs.

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