Brad Feld

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I Don’t Understand Our US Immigration Policy

Apr 05, 2007

Reuters had an article out today titled US reaches visa cap, skilled workers out of luckAs someone who is constantly trying to recruit great software developers for companies I’m an investor in, this is an insane situation.

The US Immigration Service apparently “reached its annual quota for visa applications in one day.”  The article summarizes the situation:

“The Citizenship and Immigration Services received a record of more than 150,000 applications for the H-1B visa on Monday, nearly double the number of visas it can grant for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2007. Individuals cannot apply for the visa. The employer must apply or submit a petition on the worker’s behalf. The visa is good for up to six years. The government will grant 65,000 visas to those who hold the equivalent of an undergraduate degree and possess the technical expertise in a specialized field, such as engineering and computer programming. Another 20,000 visas will go to people with advanced academic degrees who have technical expertise.”

There is just no reason why there should be a quota on this type of H-1B visa.  I don’t want to delve into the more generic immigration policy issue, but we are talking about highly educated employees in a segment that is seriously supply constrained, especially if you believe anything about demand over the next 10 years.  One of the main reasons I’ve been as involved as I have been in the National Center for Women & Information Technology is because I believe that we don’t have enough qualified software developers in the US and one way to solve for this is to get more women interested.  

It certainly doesn’t help when the government artificially constrains the supply of H-1B visa, especially from people that are already employed.  Maybe a few of our presidential candidates gearing up for a 2008 run will understand this issue.