Visa day sparks new tech workers debate

With the US government having opened up new applications for US visas on Monday for highly skilled workers, debate has once again flared up on the issue of the demands of the tech sector to be able to hire more workers from overseas.

The tech sector in the US has been complaining for a very long time about the shortage of workers that have specialized skills, but this debate has been complicated even further by the fresh attention that has been brought to broader immigration laws aimed at allowing millions of undocumented workers to finally come out of the shadows.

The US government has now opened this year’s annual applications for 65,000 places on the so-called H-1B visa program for highly skilled workers.  US Citizenship and Immigration Services says that it is expecting more requests than are available by April 5th, and if that does indeed happen they will have to set up a lottery system.  “It will be a frenzy, because the cap of 65,000 visas is nowhere near high enough to meet demand,” notes the head of BSA/The Software Alliance, Robert Holleyman.  “If you didn’t know better, you might think the H-1B petition feeding frenzy had something to do with April Fool’s Day.  But it’s no joke.”

Brad Smith, the General Counsel to Microsoft, adds that “increased anxiety” has been the result for a lot of companies due to the fact that visas for the next 12 months are likely to be filled within the very first week.