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Microsoft proposes plan to create additional H-1B visas

It is no secret that businesses throughout the United States, including Miami, are hurting when it comes to finding the number of skilled workers needed. One way in which companies are securing the workers needed is through overseas recruiting. This is achieved through the use of temporary H-1B visas which we have written about in the past.

The number of these types of visas available annually is capped at 65,000. The application process for H-1B visas begins on April 1, 180 days before the fiscal year starts, on October 1 of each year. Most years the cap for these visas is reached shortly after the start of each fiscal year. This means that in many cases there are both skilled workers as well as companies interesting in taking advantage of the program but are unable to.

Despite requesting an average of over 4,000 H-1B visas in both 2010 and 2011, a company that is apparently in dire need of these skilled workers is Microsoft. As a result, the company recently proposed a plan that appears to be mutually advantageous to both the U.S. government as well as businesses based in the country. Among other things, the proposed plan would involve the government making 20,000 additional H-1B visas available each year in exchange for a fee of $10,000. This is much higher than the current rate attached to these visas of $1,500.

Under Microsoft's plan, the money the U.S. would receive from these much higher fees could be used to provide additional STEM training for teachers throughout the nation. The rationale is that the extra training could lead to a qualified employee pool in the future.

While Microsoft is certainly one of the most recognizable company names in the country it is by no means the only one in the U.S. in need of skilled workers and other businesses could probably benefit from a program such as this. However, a research fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C., does not believe that the proposed plan would pass through congress. This is at least in part due o the fact that it would address only one sector of employers who rely on immigrant workers.

Source: Seattle Times, "Microsoft offers U.S. big bucks for H-1B visas," Kyung M. Song, Sept. 27, 2012

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