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The Case for Comprehensive Immigration Reform • Presented by Microsoft Employees • to Congressman Reichert • August 20, 2010
Why Immigration Reform? Instability for Microsoft Immigrant Families Microsoft—Economic Engine of WA State Effect on Local Economy and Tax Base • Keep the largest employer in WA State competitive by ensuring Microsoft can attract and retain the best talent from around the world • Immigrants avoid investing in local property or startup company due to uncertainty in lives • Due to Green card issues, Microsoft opened office in Vancouver and R&D Center in Beijing. • H1-B Visa and Green Card Retrogression keeps us in a state of limbo for 10-15 years • Affects our career and family life • Drives valuable high-tech workers to relocate to other countries
Immigrants drive growth in the high-tech economy, without them the US will lose its competitive edge 70% of students in US science and engineering programs 1995-2006 were immigrants Over 50% of high-tech companies in Silicon Valley were founded by immigrants, e.g. Google, Yahoo, bay and Intel Immigrants are filing patents at twice the rate of American-born For every worker hired on an H-1B visa, at least 5 new jobs created 31% of VC-funded founders came from the H1-B Visa Program Sources: National Venture Capital Association, National Foundation for American Policy, Immigration Policy Center
Yet archaic US immigration laws discriminate against engineers and scientists Antiquated Green Card system favors family reunification over prioritizing skilled workers Out of 1 million GC issued per year, only 9% go to workers with advanced degrees, most go to people sponsored by family Flat quota applies to India and Malawi equally, does not reflect population or source of high skilled workers Due to backlog, H1-B temp visa workers wait in vain for GC and many are relocating to other countries Loosening GC and H1-B visa restrictions will increase taxes, could reduce federal deficit by $100 billion over 10 yrs Sources: Immigration Policy Center, Technology Policy Institute, “America’s Loss is the World’s Gain” by Wadwa.
Employment-Based Green Card Process • Employer Petitions/DOL Certifies • Qualified, able, willing US workers unavailable for very specific job. • Foreign worker meets education, training, experience requirements. • Foreign worker will not adversely affect wages and working conditions of US workers. • Date of application: Priority Date (PD) assigned. • Employer/Worker Apply for I-140/USCIS Approves • May file I-140 concurrently with I-485 if visa numbers available. • USCIS Assigns “Visa Number” Based on PD • Worker Adjusts Status: Files I-485 • Only if visa numbers available. • Visa Number may not be available if annual or per-country limits apply. • Possible Retrogression! • Congressional Intent: 6 MONTHS – 1 YEAR Process • To create efficient, welcoming process for skilled legal immigrants. Employer Files Labor Petition Department of Labor approves the Labor certification USCIS approves the I-140 petition USCIS assigns visa numbers Applicant applies to adjust to permanent resident status (I-485)
The Effects of Green Card Retrogression • 5-10 YEARS Retrogression for Indian EB-2 (professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability) and 5-10 YEARS for Chinese EB-2; Indian EB-3 applicants retrogressed 10+ YEARS!! • I.e. Indian EB-2 applicants with Priority Dates (PD) after Jan 2003, unable to file I-485. This after YEARS long delay in labor certification. • However, applicant with identical PD, skills and job from other countries may file I-485 right away. Not First (Equivalent Skill) Come, First Served system. • Does not account for world distribution of skills or industry needs. Industry needs highly skilled tech workers. India and China have invested in tech and science education. Policy set as though all countries have same distribution of skills.
Personal Stories and Challenges Garth Bradley “As a native-born American, I signed this letter because I am fully aware that the competitiveness of my company and my industry rely on bringing engineering talent from abroad. Because not enough American kids are choosing to major in engineering and science, we must fill these gaps by hiring from abroad, otherwise the US will not maintain its lead in high-tech innovation. Innovation by engineers fuels high-tech growth. Without them, I would not have a job in marketing.”
Personal Stories and Challenges PARMEET BATRA “I came to the US on a student visa (MS degree) in 2000 and decided to stay here after graduation. I am a law abiding resident of the US and after being here for 10 years, I still don’t have a Green card or citizenship because of archaic and anti-immigrant quotas. Instead, I am subject to the hassles of submitting applications to USCIS every year and am at the mercy of border patrol. I got married in 2008 and my wife joined me on an H4. She cannot pursue a career in business marketing because of the visa restrictions. All these reasons are making it difficult for us to live here.”
Personal Stories and Challenges OSCAR OMAR GARZA SANTOS “My successful tenure in this country to apply my computer science & videogame business knowledge as well as trilingual communication skills for Microsoft has come to a halt after 7 years working in both WA and TX. Due to job relocation, I have gone through Green Card process resets imposed by an immigration system that still keeps me waiting for the resident permit beyond the traditional 6-year H1-B visa timeframe. The limitations imposed in my life in the work I can do, the role I can perform, the time I get to spend with my family as well as who should I marry are too much to bear. Frustrated by this immigration deadlock, I have decided to return to Mexico where I am planning the development of my own video game & mobile apps company. I would have preferred to establish my startup here in Bellevue and live in WA, but I’d rather invest in Latin America or Europe now and find a more welcoming country that will enable me to live as a first class citizen. MEXICO
Personal Stories and Challenges GUSTAVO MUNOZ CASTRO “The USA needs a modern, competitive and fair immigration system. The system right now does not work for employment-based immigrants or the US economy. The arbitrary quotas and per country restrictions make thousands of visas go unused while the US economy loses thousands of US-educated foreign science & engineering students who go home because they cannot stay. It doesn’t make sense!” MEXICO
Personal Stories and Challenges I landed in the US in 2005 and got a offer at Microsoft in 2006, but it took roughly 3 years to secure my H1B visa. Twice my H1B visa got rejected in the lottery as the quota ran out . It was a really frustrating experience. I had to go out of the country for about an year before I could get back to US on a H1B visa. Luck worked for me the third time. For the first time in my life, I had to believe in luck rather than my skills and experience. Now I’m back on an H1B and it scares me that I have to deal with the same quota system for my Green Card which currently has a indefinite wait for my country. I feel that this quota and lottery system is not designed to bring and retain the right talent in the United States. The uncertainty here is really a nightmare for fellow foreign workers like me. I wish this situation would change soon with immigration reform. NAVANEETHA KRISHNAN THANKANADAR INDIA
Personal Stories and Challenges My Mother In Law has tried to apply for a tourist Visa 3 times. The 3 times she has been denied because my wife’s family is a low income family for which proving strong ties to Costa Rica is hard to demonstrate. She has been unable to witness the birth of her only two grandchildren. This have brought great sadness to my wife and my immediate family. It’s a shame that the grandmother of my children would never get to know the house where they are growing, just because of her economic situation. Oscar Calvo Costa Rica
1000 Microsoft employees signed a letter urging Congressman Reichert to lead on immigration reform LEADERSHIP ROLE IN HOUSE Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) NEW AMERICANS CANDIDATES FORUM • With crisis in AZ and majority of Americans want immigration system fixed, will Rep. Reichert be a voice of reason and use his role as Vice Chair of the GOP Committee on National Security to let other Republicans know we need a sensible solution? • We are behind Comprehensive Immigration Reform for all immigrant workers—high skill and undocumented. United as a larger force, we have a better chance of success. Will Rep. Reichert support us and fight for CIR? • We would like to invite Rep. Reichert to attend a New Americans Candidates Forum on the Eastside in early October with over 200 immigrant voters. Sponsored by OneAmerica.
Issues to Address in Immigration Reform Bill QUOTAS PATHS TO CITIZENSHIP GREEN CARD RETROGRESSION • Increase per country quotas, especially for India and China • Exempt spouses/families from quotas, allowing wives work permits • Exempt immigrants with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees • Address Green Card Retrogression that that has made US citizenship and the American dream beyond our reach • Allow recapturing of unused visas/Green Cards across all quotas • Ease the path to citizenship for Employment-Based Immigrants
Microsoft Employee Attendees Garth Bradley & Jennifer Juo, spouse Gustavo Munoz Castro ParmeetBatra Oscar Omar Garza Santos Navaneetha Krishnan Thankanadar Oscar Calvo-Rodriguez thank you Contact Information: Garth Bradley firstname.lastname@example.org 425-722-2586