July 9, 2012
As the U.S. continues to grapple with high unemployment, there is one place in the country where the jobless rate remains low: Silicon Valley. In fact, big U.S. tech companies like Google, Apple and Facebook are currently waging a war for top talent. Tech executives often talk about a shortage of highly-skilled workers, and the need to make it easier for immigrants with such skills to come to the U.S. But this year, the cap on H-1B visas — which allow educated foreign workers to get a job in the U.S. — has already been reached. The disconnect between our immigration system and the needs of Silicon Valley has become so acute that plans are being developed to anchor a giant ship off the coast of San Francisco, where immigrant entrepreneurs can live and work without needing to obtain a visa. This ambitious project, called Blueseed, highlights the lengths to which some are willing to go in the face of America’s flawed immigration system.
Silicon Valley has always relied heavily on immigrants — take Intel’s Andy Grove or Google’s Sergey Brin. Writing in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal last year, Marc Andreessen, the billionaire co-founder of Netscape who now runs his own venture capital firm, described the need for tech talent in the Valley.