NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Business

February 2, 2013

Proposal: Bring high-skilled workers into US

(Continued)

“These U.S. senators are siding 100 percent with multinational corporations and 100 percent against American tech workers,” he said.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president who has been leading the H-1B issue, called the bill a “major step forward” in addressing the shortage of well-educated Americans as well as skilled foreign workers.

“They have reached across party lines to craft a meaningful proposal that will positively impact opportunities for America’s students and workers and our economy,” Smith said in a statement.

The bill’s other main sponsors are Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Democrats Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Chris Coons of Delaware.

Microsoft had previously suggested creating an extra 20,000 H-1B visas a year for “STEM” jobs — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The cap has fluctuated since the visas were created in 1990, and has never exceeded 195,000.

Microsoft also has proposed a fee of $10,000 for each extra visa to fund science, technology and math education to train future American workers. Hatch’s bill would charge employers an extra $1,000 instead on all visa applications.

Microsoft is one of the nation’s heaviest users of the H-1B visas, and foreign workers make up about 10 percent of the company’s U.S. workforce.

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