Microsoft Continues to Hire Guest Visa Workers
Responding to questions from Congress about layoff and work force plans, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said in a blog post today that the company plans to keep its use of H1-B guest-worker visas at levels that are in line with previous years.
When Microsoft announced its first round of layoffs on Jan. 22, Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley wrote a letter to Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer to demand that he let go foreign workers first. Microsoft has pushed for the expansion of the H1-B visa program numerous times, and its founder Bill Gates has testified on Capitol Hill on the issue.
"I am concerned that Microsoft will be retaining foreign guest workers rather than similarly qualified American employees when it implements its layoff plan," Grassley said in the letter.
Smith did not directly answer Grassley's questions about how many foreign workers it currently employs and if they were affected by layoffs. He also did not provide specific projections for future visa-worker hires. He did say, though, that less than 15 percent of the company's U.S. staff has visas.
Microsoft says H1-B visa holders are key to the development of new technologies. Intel has also been a strong advocate for more H1-B visas, as has been the venture capital community and other IT companies.
"U.S. innovation has always been based in part on foreign-born scientists and researchers," Gates told the House Committee on Science and Technology last March. "The fact that [other countries'] smartest people have wanted to come here has been a huge advantage to us, and in a sense, we're kind of throwing that away."
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