Friday, 13 July 2018 08:45

Microsoft says visa changes may force it to shift jobs out of US


Changes in visa rules introduced by the Trump administration may force Microsoft to move some jobs out of the US, the president and chief legal officer of the company, Brad Smith, has warned.

Smith told  CNBC in an interview: "We do worry about a couple of the very specific immigration questions that people appear to be debating in Washington."

He cited the example of the administration deciding to cancel work visas for spouses of H-1B visa holders. That decision has not been implemented yet, though June was supposed to be the deadline.

Those on H-4 visas were allowed to reside in the US but the Obama administration changed this in May 2015, allowing them to be employed. Since they were introduced, a total of 41,256 people have been given work permits.

The second example cited by Smith was a rule that allows international students who are qualified in science, technology, engineering or mathematics from US universities to stay in the country while trying to obtain a work visa.

Said Smith: "We don't want to move jobs out of the United States and we hope that we don't see decision making in Washington that would force us to do that."

More than 75% of all the H-1B visas granted in the 2017 financial year went to Indians who are allotted 7% of green cards annually.

Smith said Microsoft had been lobbying Congress, the White House and even the Canadian Government in order to ensure that its employees did not have to suddenly leave. He described a development centre that Microsoft had in Vancouver as a "bit of a safety valve".

"We're not going to cut people loose. We're going to stand behind them,” he said. “In the world of technology you better stand behind your people because your people are your most valuable asset.”

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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