Bill Gates criticizes cap on foreign engineers

Posted by bink on April 28 2005, 8:53 PM. Posted in Bill Gates.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates urged the Bush administration and lawmakers Wednesday to abolish immigration limits on foreign engineers who can be hired by U.S. companies, a sensitive subject among American technology workers watching their own jobs increasingly move overseas.

During an infrequent visit to lobby personally for changes in federal policy, the world's richest executive said the government should eliminate the limit of 65,000 for overseas workers who can be hired each year by American firms under specialty "H1-B" visas aimed at drawing engineers, scientists, architects and doctors to the United States.

"The whole idea of the H1-B visa thing is, don't let too many smart people come into the country," Gates said during an invitation-only panel discussion at the Library of Congress. "The thing basically doesn't make sense."

Responding to a question about policy changes Gates would make if he were king, Gates said he "probably will get myself in trouble on this one." He endorsed more intensive study of nuclear power, improvements to U.S. schools and higher research spending by government.

"I'd certainly get rid of the H1-B visa cap," Gates added. "That's one of the easiest decisions."

Gates and other leading technology executives have pressed Congress aggressively to let them hire more foreign employees by raising visa limits, but Gates hasn't previously campaigned to abolish the immigration law entirely. Technology executives have argued they are unable to find qualified American workers, a contention disputed by U.S. labor groups and unemployed computer engineers.

"Anybody who's got good computer science training, they are not out there unemployed," Gates said. "We're just not seeing an available labor pool."  Continue At Source