Gates wants H1B visa caps to go

By agencies   |   Thursday, 28 April 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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WASHINGTON: Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has urged the United States Government to remove restrictions on H1B visas if the U.S. wants to remain a leader in technology.

Microsoft is having a hard time finding skilled workers within the United States and the lack of H-1B visas for skilled workers is only making the situation worse, Gates said. In a panel discussion at the Library of Congress, Gates went on to add that the lack of H1B visa holders, identifying skilled workers was hard.

"The whole idea of the H-1B visa thing is, don't let too many smart people come into the country. The whole thing doesn't make sense," Gates said.

Gates questioned the need for a regulation when there was enough demand for H1B visa holders. The number of non-immigrant visas for skilled professionals was capped at 65,000 in 2004 and 2005. This was done in lieu of security reasons and to provide an opportunity to the techies in the U.S. This is just one-third of the 195,000 visas issued annually.

Anxious U.S. employers grabbed this entire quota to facilitate labor in many fields from medicine to engineering, research and programming.

Officials point out that where the number of H1B visas security is of concern. It is also pointed out that the unemployment rate for engineers is above the national average.

Despite the labor shortage, Microsoft plans to keep most of its operations in the United States, Gates said. He also maintained that all development activities would stay in the U.S.

Gates also said that unless the United States did not improve science education and boost spending on research and development, it would fall behind India, China and other countries that are rapidly closing in on U.S’s turf.

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