In 2012 Microsoft announced that it was searching for qualified IT professionals, revealing that it had 6,000 vacancies in September that it had been unable to fill, 3,400 of which were for IT positions. Now Microsoft is lobbying the US government to change the rules for skilled immigration US visas.
The company says that the difficulties in finding skilled workers is a good illustration of the urgent need for immigration reform in the United States and wants two changes in particular. Firstly, it wants an expansion and reform of the non-immigrant work visa program known as H-1B, while secondly it is pushing for an increase in the amount of green cards that can be issued to skilled workers in the IT field and has suggested that companies in the United States should have the option of being able to purchase visas and a green card for foreign workers they wish to employ, thus allowing them to be able to find the staff they want in order to prevent any future skills shortages.
At the moment there is a yearly cap on the number of H-1B visas that can be granted in a 12-month period of 65,000 (with a further 20,000 able to be given to students who have masters degrees or higher). H-1B visas are ordinarily granted to graduates of a “specialty occupation” for a period of three years but it is possible to have them extended. The great majority are given to students who are skilled in engineering, mathematics, science or technology.