Execs in tech community push for eased immigration policies

From Silicon Valley in California to Silicon Alley in New York, leaders in the tech industry are pushing Washington for immigration reform. According to the Huffington Post, these leaders donated over $7 million to the election in the hopes that President Obama will support their cause.

The execs state that without eased access to work visas through immigration reform their businesses will continue to struggle finding workers with the requisite math and science skills. These leaders are pushing for comprehensive reforms, and legislatures within Congress are taking note. Senator Orrin G. Hatch from Utah is one of them. Recently the Senator co-sponsored a bill to allow high skilled immigrants greater access to work visas.

If passed, the bill would increase the H-1B visas used for most immigrant tech employees from the current 65,000 cap to 115,000 annually. Those pushing for reform argue that without a change skilled workers cannot get visas. When this happens, some tech companies move their businesses overseas.

Large companies like Microsoft are joining the debate, arguing that there are not enough qualified Americans to fill job openings. As a result, they contend foreigners are coming to the United States to study and gain these tech skills only to be denied a visa and forced to leave instead of finding employment in the country. The proposed bill offers one solution to this problem: unlimited green cards for foreigners who graduate from American universities with degrees in science and technology.

Work visa basics

There are a variety of work visas that serve various purposes. Generally, those within the tech industry would apply for H-1B Visas. This type of visa requires the applicant hold a higher level education degree or its equivalent. Additional visa categories include:

  • H-2A visas: generally used for temporary or seasonal agricultural work
  • H-2B visas: provide access for temporary or seasonal workers that are not involved in agricultural work.
  • H-3 visas: receive training not available in home country other than medical or academic schooling (immigrants generally use visas from the F category for academic purposes)
  • O visa: applies for those with extraordinary abilities in science, art, education, business, athletics or other fields of expertise

Determining which visa is appropriate for each situation and filing the appropriate paperwork can be difficult. If you are attempting to apply for a visa contact an experienced employment immigration attorney in order to better ensure all the necessary paperwork is completed or to provide assistance in applying for an extension.

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