Menlo Park: US companies are struggling to hire and retain the world’s best employees, and America’s immigration policy desperately needs reform, executives and academics have said at a Silicon Valley business summit.
Sun Microsystems Inc sponsored the Emerging Markets Summit, a one-day event coming amid growing pressure from the tech industry to boost caps on skilled worker visas.
Because the national immigration debate has focused largely on unskilled and illegal immigrants, many technology executives favour separate legislation governing highly skilled, legal workers.
Hundreds of foreign nationals - mostly engineers, students and computer programmers - marched in San Jose, California, last month to protest the backlog of permanent visa applications at the US Department of State. Based on government data, as many as 1 million foreign nationals were waiting for permanent residency in 2006 - including more than 500,000 highly skilled immigrants.
Sebastian Teunissen, an international business professor at University of California, Berkeley, said capping the number of high-skilled foreign workers that US companies can import shrinks the pool of talent for Silicon Valley companies.
“Why would anyone who is a reasonable, rational thinker want to reduce resources and protect inefficiencies?” Teunissen asked yesterday.
Sun has thousands of employees abroad, including 1,300 at an 11-year-old development centre in Bangalore, India. The hardware and software company will likely get a majority of its revenue from overseas operations in the next three to five years.