Posted by Brad SmithGeneral Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft
Today, the U.S. Senate took a significant first step toward reforming our nation’s broken and outdated immigration system with the introduction of comprehensive legislation by the ‘Gang of 8’ Senators. The bipartisan bill will broaden economic prosperity in both the short and long run by increasing access to the best and brightest talent from around the world, while also providing American students and workers with additional STEM education and training opportunities.
We thank the Senators for their leadership on this proposal and look forward to continuing to help refine the legislation. Microsoft strongly hopes that the legislative process will now move forward, as a comprehensive approach will strengthen our country’s long term economy. The bill contains numerous positive reforms that are essential for the continued growth of the tech sector, such as urgently needed increases in high-skilled visas and solutions to address the extensive backlog in employment-based green cards. It also provides for increased worker portability for visas and removes outdated per country caps for green cards.
Importantly, the legislation also helps us take steps to build our American workforce by establishing a new STEM education fund. The creation of a new STEM fund will help states invest in innovative programs that will build a stronger pipeline of U.S. workers equipped with the right skills for America’s future jobs.
The growing U.S. talent skills shortages in science, technology, engineering and math are clear. Just eleven days ago, the annual allotment for high skilled visas was greatly exceeded within the first week of availability. Our economy is creating 120,000 new computer-related jobs annually for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, but our universities are only producing about 51,000 such graduates each year. This supply and demand gap is longstanding and generates significant implications for U.S. job creation and economic competitiveness. We cannot afford to wait to enact these critically needed reforms.
Microsoft is pleased to continue working with Congress to enact a fair and meaningful immigration reform bill. There will be time for additional input and analysis as the bill moves to the Judiciary Committee and through the legislative process. We look forward to being part of that discussion. Passing broad immigration reform this year is critical for American workers, their potential employers and the broader U.S. economy.