WASHINGTON, June 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- TechNet, the bipartisan policy and political network of technology CEOs that promotes the growth of the innovation economy, today released a letter signed by 346 technology companies and groups that calls on Congress to remove the per country limit on the number of legal permanent residents who may be admitted to the U.S. in any given year in order to enhance America's competitiveness in the global economy.
The letter was sent to bipartisan members of the leadership of the U.S. Senate including: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada); U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky); Patrick Leahy, Chairman, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee (D-Vermont); Charles Grassley, Ranking Republican, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee (R-Iowa); Charles Schumer, Chairman, U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security (D-New York); and John Cornyn, Ranking Republican, U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security (R-Texas).
"Lifting the per-country limit on high skilled workers would remove an artificial barrier to helping grow America's innovation economy," said Rey Ramsey, President and CEO of TechNet. "This letter demonstrates there is broad support for making sensible reforms to our high skilled immigration system that reflect a hyper-competitive global market for talent. We look forward to working with the Senate to ensuring that our nation remains the global epicenter of innovation, cutting-edge discovery and economic growth."
The letter is the result of an industry-wide, multi-association effort and underscores the growing presence of the tech sector throughout the entire country.
The following is the text of the letter to Senate leadership:
"Thank you for your continued leadership on issues affecting the Innovation Economy. As you continue your efforts to strengthen the economy, we respectfully call to your attention a simple, bipartisan proposal that would further this goal. Removing the per country limit on the number of legal permanent residents who may be admitted to the U.S. in any given year would significantly enhance America's competitiveness in the global economy.
"The undersigned entities represent a cross section of America's tech sector. Since 1995, this sector has contributed almost $2 trillion to the nation's gross domestic product. Whether a promising startup or one of the nation's largest employers, every tech company is built on a foundation of knowledge. Our teams develop the ideas and innovations that create jobs and drive economic growth, but too many talented tech employees are stuck in a professional limbo that limits that economic growth.
"Under current law, 140,000 green cards are awarded annually to immigrants based on their job skills; but the total number of those green cards available to natives from any one country is capped at seven percent. In practice, that means the U.S. awards the same number of green cards to natives of India and China, countries which account for over 40% of the world's population, as it does to natives of Greenland, a country that accounts for 0.001% of the world's population.
"As such, tech workers from large countries like India and China who share equal qualifications with other high-skilled green card applicants wait two to three times longer to receive their permanent residence. By 2020, these valuable employees will wait an average of 20 years. Employees stuck in this limbo cannot change jobs or get a promotion or become entrepreneurs without jeopardizing their place in line for a green card. Ideas are put on hold and innovations not pursued as talented individuals wait for their green card or eventually go home to pursue their dreams free from bureaucratic delays.
"Last November, the House overwhelmingly supported legislation to phase out the per country limits in favor of a more equitable first-come-first-served system. The proposal does not create new visas. But it would dramatically reduce wait times for the type of highly skilled worker who can help keep America competitive.
"The Senate has the opportunity to take a positive and bipartisan simple step forward toward our shared goal – a strong, vibrant economy. We urge you to support this legislation to repeal the per country limit and create a fair and equitable system."
Joining TechNet on the letter included companies and organizations across the nation, among many others: Applied Materials; F5 Networks; Foursquare; Google; Intel; Intellectual Ventures; Juniper; Microsoft; LiveOps Inc.; Oracle; Sybase; Symantec; Texas Instruments; Yelp; and Visa. A full list of signatories can be found here.
TechNet is the national, bipartisan network of CEOs that promotes the growth of technology industries and the economy by building long-term relationships between technology leaders and policymakers and by advocating a targeted policy agenda. TechNet's members represent more than one million employees in the fields of information technology, biotechnology, e-commerce and finance. TechNet has offices in Washington, D.C., Palo Alto, Sacramento, Seattle, Boston and Austin. Web address: www.technet.org. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at @technetupdate.