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Google Calls For Raising H-1B Visa Cap

Executives with the search engine testify that the current annual cap of 65,000 H-1B visas is not enough to fulfill Google's specialized skills requirements.

Google executives on Wednesday called on the U.S. government to raise the number of foreign worker visas -- or H-1B status -- by illustrating the plight of one of its founders.

In congressional testimony, Google VP of people operations Laszlo Bock cited the emigration of the parents of company co-founder Sergey Brin from the Soviet Union to the United States in 1979 as evidence that admitting foreign workers into the country benefits the U.S. economy.

"We opened our doors to Sergey's parents -- a mathematician and an economist," said Bock. "Our educational system served Sergey well -- he attended the University of Maryland and Stanford University. Our free market economy supported Sergey and Larry's entrepreneurship and rewarded it when they proved that they could turn their idea into a successful business. And we continue to maintain an environment where entrepreneurs, regardless of where they started, want to come here to build their companies."

Bock said that Google is not the only Silicon Valley company to benefit from immigration.

"Intel, eBay, Yahoo, Sun Microsystems, and many other companies were all founded by immigrants who were welcomed by America," said Bock. "In fact, over the last 15 years, foreign nationals have started 25% of U.S. venture-backed public companies, accounting for more than $500 billion in market capitalization and adding significant value to our economy."

According to Bock, some 8% of Google's U.S. employees are in this country on a six-year H-1B visa because the company's "need to find the specialized skills required to run our business successfully requires us to look at candidates from around the globe -- many of whom are already in the U.S. studying at one of our great universities."

The current annual cap of 65,000 H-1B visas isn't enough, according to Bock, who urged Congress to increase the cap.

In a blog post detailing Bock's testimony, Pablo Chavez, policy counsel for Google noted, "This year, an estimated 133,000 visa applications were filed by H-1B candidates in the first two days of the filing period for only 65,000 available spots. Over the last year alone, the artificially low cap on H-1B visas has prevented more than 70 Google candidates from receiving H-1B visas."

Bock's opening remarks to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law can be seen on YouTube.

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