Donald Trump set to restrict program for foreign tech workers used by Microsoft


President-elect Donald Trump and his pick for attorney general are gearing up to overhaul or scrap a program that allows companies like Microsoft to bring in highly skilled contract workers to fill tech jobs in the U.S.

Trump’s choice for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), is on record as a harsh critic of Microsoft for using the H-1B visa program to fill job vacancies with foreign workers.

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And with Trump taking over power Jan. 20, Microsoft and other tech companies are bracing for changes, according to The Washington Post.

Under the H-1B visa program, about 100,000 contract workers, mostly in the tech field, enter the U.S. every year, according to the Post. Most of the workers are from India. Some stay for years and eventually get green cards.

Microsoft and other companies say the visa program is necessary, because there is not enough tech talent in the U.S. to fill jobs. Trump calls the H-1B visas “a cheap labor program.” His allies in Congress say they will introduce the Protect and Grow American Jobs Act to scrap the program, according to the Post.

Trump’s stances on trade, foreign jobs, clean energy and immigration could present problems for the U.S. tech industry.

The potential for a bumpy relationship with the new administration comes at a time when tech companies like Microsoft are increasingly looking toward the public sector for business, especially in providing cloud-computing services to federal agencies.

A key issue for Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is its reliance on foreign tech workers. Immigration and foreign workers in the U.S. have been a cornerstone of Trump’s campaign. Microsoft has already drawn fire from Sessions and other Republican leaders in Congress over the H-1B visa program, a guest-worker program heavily used by Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and other tech titans that say they can’t find enough skilled U.S. workers to fill tech openings.

The legislation expected to come out of Congress would primarily be aimed at large outsourcing companies that feed foreign tech workers to U.S. companies such as Microsoft. The Washington Post names two of the top companies most likely to be affected, Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services. Infosys has an office in Bellevue. Tata Consultancy Services has an office in Redmond.

culled from http://www.bizjournals.com/

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