The debate over the H-1B immigrant worker program — a program under attack with new restrictions going into place — isn’t done yet.
The latest to enter the fray is LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman. In an op-ed running in today’s WashPost, Reid notes that companies such as Microsoft, MTV, CNN, FedEx, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Burger King all started during economic downturns.
“We need to prepare for the next Burger King,” Reid says.
- Extending micro-credit lines of $50,000 to small businesses to help them get started.
- “Match funds for venture capital and angel investments.” Throwing money at investors will help create jobs, Reid argues.
- Expand the H-1B program, but nail employers with a 10% payroll tax for taking on foreign workers.
More on that last bit:
Harvard research fellow Vivek Wadhwa reports that immigrants have founded more than half of all Silicon Valley start-ups in the past decade. These immigrant-led, American tech companies employed more than 450,000 workers and grossed $52 billion in 2005. For U.S. companies to employ a highly specialised foreign worker, the employee must hold an H-1B visa, but current law allows for the issuing of only 65,000 H-1B visas per year.
The H-1B cap was established to prevent foreigners from taking American jobs, but, in fact, an education gap frequently leaves American candidates less qualified for these positions. Lawmakers could improve the situation all around by removing the cap on H-1B visas while imposing a 10 per cent payroll tax above and beyond the benchmark salary for any position being filled by holders of such visas. The proceeds of the payroll tax could be channeled into U.S. reeducation programs. This compromise would bring the best innovators to work here while subsidizing the continued education of American talent.
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