Microsoft wants immigration reform to bring in foreign workers

Microsoft wants immigration reform to bring in foreign workers »Play Video
SEATTLE -- Several high-tech companies, including Microsoft, say there's a brain drain in America.

They're worried about a shortage of qualified high-tech workers, and now they're asking Congress for help.

Microsoft alone employs 45,000 people in the United States and tens of thousands more worldwide. Officials from Microsoft and a host of other powerful companies say America isn't producing enough homegrown math and science experts and current laws prevent them from recruiting the best of those experts from overseas.

Microsoft owns 120 satellite offices around the world, but it's in the United States where most of the company's innovation takes place. Despite that, company officials say there's a brain drain in this country.

"We not only have a jobs problem in this country, we have a skills problem," said Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith.

Microsoft and several other companies claim they're not finding enough qualified high-tech workers to fill their jobs, and the key word is qualified.

"We simply don't have an adequate supply of workers here in America with the specialized computer science skills and engineering research skills we need to get the work done," said Microsoft vice president of general counsel Karen Jones.

What the company now wants is immigration reform to eliminate green card quotas. Green cards allow foreign nationals to work in the country, and right now the maximum number per country, per year is set at 9,800.

That means for India, which has a population of 1.1 billion and a desirable high-tech workforce, only 9,800 nationals can receive an American green card each year.

Microsoft thinks the limits are flawed.

"If we don't have a system that allows us to bring the talent we need, we as a company, we as a country, are really going to miss out," Jones said.

Microsoft wants Congress to pass a law called the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, which would eliminate the ceiling on the number of green cards the United States issues.