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Microsoft Prefers Visa

Planning on landing a job with Microsoft during these hard economic times? They're still hiring despite the cutback of 5,000 positions announced earlier this year. But who are they hiring? To paraphrase a commercial for a popular credit card, it might be best to bring your visa card. Because Mic
Planning on landing a job with Microsoft during these hard economic times? They're still hiring despite the cutback of 5,000 positions announced earlier this year. But who are they hiring? To paraphrase a commercial for a popular credit card, it might be best to bring your visa card. Because Microsoft doesn't take just anyone for a position, and they don't take American expertise.The H-1B visa program was created to allow foreign nationals to work in the United States in professions where jobs could not be filled by American citizens. By those rules, you would think that in tough economic times the number of foreign workers would contract as qualified American workers became available as a result of downsizing. Given the layoffs happening across the entire tech sector this year, who could possibly argue that the number of H-1B visas should even stay constant, much less increase? Microsoft, that's who.

I have some sympathy for tech companies because Americans haven't been choosing technical and engineering fields over the past decade or so. Plus, it's not like a laid-off person in Microsoft Office support can take a position as an Azure system architect. However, things are changing. First, there is an uptick in enrollment for computer field; Americans want those jobs. Second, layoffs in the technical sector should be making good American talent available. Third, the technical whiz kids who were drawn to the world of Wall Street have seen the meltdown of its mirage-like financial glory, and may be willing to take a job in the real world.

Let me be clear, I'm not a xenophobe on these issues. If we want open immigration where foreign workers are an an equal footing with citizens for all jobs, then let's do that and be honest about it. But the H-1B system isn't set up to do that; it's supposed to let companies fill positions they just can't fill with citizens. As long as there are rules, they should be followed and not exploited by a few companies with good connections in Washington DC.