TechNet Encouraged by Immigration Reform Conversations, Supports New High Skilled Immigration Bill

Jan 29, 2013, 21:12 ET from TechNet

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- TechNet, the bipartisan policy and political network of technology CEOs that promotes the growth of the innovation economy, today hailed the U.S. Senate introduction of the Immigration Innovation Act, offered by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Chris Coons (D-Delaware), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Dean Heller (R-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John Hoeven (R-ND) and Mark Warner (D-VA).

The measure, dubbed "I-Squared," would nearly double the number of H-1B visas for high-skilled foreign workers, raising the maximum from 65,000 visas to 115,000. Furthermore, the number of visas available would be adjustable based on economic demand. Foreign students at U.S. institutions would be allowed to apply for green cards while on their student visas. The plan would also allow Congress to roll over unused green cards from year to year, with certain types of immigrants exempt from the limit on green cards. Finally, the bill would promote education and retraining in STEM fields. The money generated by fees for H-1B visas and employment-based green cards would be used to promote education and worker retraining in the STEM fields.

The following are quotes from TechNet's executive members in support of the legislation:

"It's critical that America address the shortage of workers with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills.  There are high-skilled, high-paying jobs being created by American businesses across the country that are being left unfilled because of this gap. The country's economic and technology leadership are dependent on improving STEM education and implementing broader immigration reform," said Microsoft General Counsel and Executive Vice President Brad Smith. "Today's introduction in the Senate of the bi-partisan Immigration Innovation Act is a major step forward. Microsoft strongly supports this legislation and urges Congress to send broader immigration reform that includes these critical solutions to the President's desk this year."

"This legislation includes bold and innovative proposals to secure U.S. competitiveness through high-skilled immigration reform and investments to strengthen the U.S. education system," said Oracle President and Chief Financial Officer Safra Catz. "It encourages innovators to work permanently in the U.S. rather than overseas for our foreign competitors."

"The positive impact that immigrant entrepreneurs and engineers have had on our economy is profound," said Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Partner John Doerr. "They establish one quarter of U.S. technology start-up companies and the jobs that come with this growth. They are critical for U.S. competitiveness in the global economy. We urgently need to improve our STEM pipeline and change our immigration laws.  I-Squared is a positive step toward these reforms."

"America's success has been based upon its ability to attract the best, brightest and most ambitious individuals. Our country needs a modern immigration policy that further fosters this culture to help spur continued technological innovation and economic growth," said Cisco Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Chambers. "This agreement represents a big step in the right direction.  We will continue to work with members of Congress and the Administration to ensure that we can fix our broken immigration system."

"Our STEM pipeline and immigrant entrepreneurs are essential ingredients in America's innovation economy," said SV Angel Founder and General Partner Ron Conway. "This bill represents a reasonable approach to ensuring that we have a strong STEM funding mechanism and that we don't turn away talented people just because they are born somewhere else.  America's history has always been to welcome the best ideas and people from around the world to make our country even greater. That's what this measure recognizes and will make our economy stronger." 

"The Immigration Innovation Act represents an important step forward in immigration reform by addressing one of the major challenges our country faces: the need for immigration laws to help United States companies attract and retain the best innovators from around the world, while also creating a new and sustainable funding stream to enhance the United States STEM education pipeline," said President and CEO of TechNet Rey Ramsey.

About TechNet:

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: You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at @technetupdate.