Gates: ‘Let smart people come’

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Mar 12, 2008

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Bill Gates has about four months left as chairman of Microsoft. One thing he’d really like to do before he leaves is get Congress to allow more skilled foreign workers into the country. People who might benefit Microsoft and other tech companies.

Today, Gates will be on Capitol Hill, testifying about H-1B Visas. Nancy Marshall Genzer has more.


Nancy Marshall Genzer: The federal government only doles out 65,000 H-1B visas per year. In 2007, all of the visas were snapped up the first day they were offered. Microsoft says it couldn’t get visas for about a third of the people it wanted to hire last year.

At an appearance in Canada last month, Gates called the immigration program a “disaster.”

Bill Gates: If I could just change one law in the U.S. it would be this idea of hey — let smart people come.

Standard and Poor’s chief economist, David Wyss, says those smart people are in short supply.

David Wyss: We also in this country have a significant shortage in a lot of technically trained disciplines. We’ve been using foreign workers to fill up some of those holes.

Immigration critics say Gates should hire American workers. But Gates says there aren’t enough qualified Americans. He’s expected to tell Congress to invest more in math, science and engineering education.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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