Bill Gates again denounces H1-B visa curbs

So does this mean that Microsoft is hiring?

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates slammed the federal government’s strict limits on temporary visas for technology workers, saying that if he had his way, the system would be scrapped entirely. “The theory behind the H-1B (visa)–that too many smart people are coming–that’s what’s questionable,” Gates said Wednesday during a panel discussion at the Library of Congress. “It’s very dangerous. You can get this idea that the world is very scary; let’s cut back on travel…let’s cut back on visas.” Federal quotas on H-1B visas, capped at 65,000 last year, have long been a sore spot for Microsoft and other technology companies. But, Gates said, the increased caliber of research institutions in China and India means that curbs on immigration and guest-workers will pose a greater threat to America’s competitiveness than ever before. []

Of course, the rudimentary pro- and con- noise from elected officials:

“I think there was a post-9/11 effort to cut down on visas,” added Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat. “I think this was a mistake.” Rep. David Dreier, a California Republican, was left defending stricter immigration rules. “We can’t be so naive as to think there is not a very serious problem” with terrorists entering the country, he said. [] Gates wants to scrap H-1B visa restrictions

6 thoughts on “Bill Gates again denounces H1-B visa curbs

  1. See, its not outsourcing OR immigration that’s the real problem.

    It’s brown people taking over white people jobs. We could care less what continent its happening on.

  2. While the increased integration of Indian and American economies are generally a good thing, there may be some unintended consequences which both American and Indian policymakers ignore.

    First off, Gates is being less than sincere when he says there are not enough American programmers. What he should say is that he wants to keep the cost of labor down, so he wants to expand his hiring pool globally. Working in a small business, I can tell you that benefits packages is what causes the biggest headache for employers An employer may have some control over salary, but health care costs are largely out of the employers control. Hiring overseas allows American companies to hire talented workers, provide a greater variety of good and services to their customers, and not have to worry too much about the rising cost of health care. Recently, it was reported that more cars are manufactured in Ontario than in Michigan, since car companies spend more on health care and pension obligations than on steel.

    For India, globalization has been a boon. Even within the country, the more global states are better off than the backward states. But, much of this progress is occuring in spite of the government. The delivery of state services is still abysmmal. While those Indian students fortunate enough to go on to college face a brighter future, there is an even greater level of benefit in providing basic primary education. Since well off Indians have traditionally been oblivious to the poverty that surrounds them (this is going back centuries, not just with the arrival of McDonalds and Pepsi), they may feel less interested in investing in their poorer neighbors.

  3. It’s not just labor costs either. When you have someone on an H1-B, you have much more power over them in general; if you fire them, it’s possible they’ll have to leave the country and that hangs over their heads.

    I had a friend who was brought here to teach on an H1 and once he got here, he found they withheld wage stubs, paid half of what they had promised, etc., etc. But he didn’t want to do anything about it for the obvious reasons.

    Something to keep in mind when thinking about Bush’s “guestworker” program–which is essentially the same thing, except with low-wage workers like strawberry pickers (who have even less leverage than a software programmer).