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Gates: U.S. Immigration Laws Force IT Outsourcing

U.S. technology companies are being forced to outsource more jobs overseas because of outdated immigration restrictions, says Bill Gates. The Microsoft founder and chair told a congressional panel that the nation's immigration system creates a challenge for U.S. firms that want to retain highly skilled foreign workers. "As a result, many U.S. firms, including Microsoft, have been forced to locate staff in countries that welcome skilled foreign workers to do work that could otherwise have been done in the United States," he testified to the House of Representatives Science and Technology Committee. Gates specifically cited the limits on H-1B visas aimed at highly skilled professionals, which is currently set at 65,000 per year. Gates testified that this number is "arbitrarily set and bears no relation to the U.S. economy's demand for skilled professionals." He noted that the 2008 visas were snapped up in one day last April and employers are currently waiting to apply for visas for fiscal 2009. Gates also testified that the United States needs to improve science and math education to train a new generation of tech leaders.

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