Microsoft Hosts Skilled Immigration Roundtable

The Washington Post
August 1, 2012

The sleek conference room at Microsoft’s Washington, D.C., office was packed Wednesday morning with industry and policy leaders. The conversation topic: The skilled worker pipeline in the U.S., particularly the cap on H-1B visas. Talk ranged from policy prescriptions to where the demand for H-1B visa workers is most concentrated. And the discussion was predictably weighted with empirical evidence, to the point where talk of the anecdote-as-argument against raising visa caps elicited light laughter.

But beneath the data, policy, corporate interests and politics rest central, non-empirical questions: Why aren’t American students interested in science, technology, math and engineering? And when they are, why do they pursue employment in non STEM fields — a phenomenon known as “diversion.” What role does ballooning student loan debt play? And, of course, what of the perception among those in the general public that a job given to an H-1B visa recipient from overseas would take a job away from an otherwise qualified American or depress wages?

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