Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of Microsoft, issued the following statement on today’s introduction of the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013:
“It’s critical that America address the shortage of workers with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. There are many high-skilled, high-paying jobs being created by American businesses across the country that are being left unfilled because of this gap. The country’s economic and technology leadership are dependent on improving STEM education and implementing broader immigration reform.
Today’s introduction in the Senate of the bi-partisan Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 is a major step forward. This legislation addresses the country’s immigration and education needs in a thoughtful and impactful manner.
The Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 contains crucial reforms in high-skilled immigration that provide more H-1B visas and green cards in exchange for a small increase in additional fees. Equally important, the bill directly invests in America’s future by directing these fees toward the funding of education and training programs for our own citizens. This common-sense improvement fundamentally strengthens our country’s ability to develop, attract and retain the best talent from within our own borders and around the world.
Further, the bill provides additional reforms to improve the employment-based immigration process, including the elimination of per country limits for green cards and the provision of spousal work authorization and improved portability for H-1B workers. It also includes key elements consistent with proposals outlined by Microsoft last fall, such as recapture of unused green card numbers. The proposed STEM education fund would enhance the economic competitiveness of the United States by strengthening STEM education, expanding the number of well-trained and effective STEM teachers and increasing the number of graduates in STEM related programs. We strongly support each of these reforms.
Microsoft applauds the leadership of Senators Hatch, Klobuchar, Rubio, Coons, Flake, Blumenthal, Shaheen, Hoeven, Heller and Warner. They have reached across party lines to craft a meaningful proposal that will positively impact opportunities for America’s students and workers and our economy. Microsoft strongly supports the Immigration Innovation Act and urges Congress to send broader immigration reform that includes these critical solutions to the President’s desk this year. ”