Microsoft Seeking Immigration Visa Exemption

Microsoft wants exemptions to President Trump’s executive order that froze immigration from seven countries for 90 days. That order, which also halted refugee inflow for 120 days, has resulted in border control denying visa holders entry into the United States.

As proposed in an open letter signed by Brad Smith, Microsoft’s chief legal officer, the exemptions would permit workers with visas sponsored by U.S. companies to re-enter the country, along with students with visas.

“At Microsoft we have seen these needs first-hand through some of our 76 employees who are impacted by last week’s order and, together with their 41 dependents, have nonimmigrant visas to live in the United States,” Smith wrote. “We believe that limited but important steps to help all such individuals can be taken by the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, consistent with national security and the authority that the President expressly gave to them.”

The exemption, titled “Responsible Known Travelers with Pressing Needs,” proposes that a visa holder allowed into the U.S. must meet four requirements. Quoting the letter:

  • The applicant initially must fall into one of three categories: (a) an individual who already holds a valid nonimmigrant work visa sponsored by a U.S. employer enrolled in the E-Verify program, which helps ensure responsible visa use; (b) an individual who already holds an F-1 student visa to pursue a degree at an accredited U.S. university and can provide documentation from the university showing that he or she is currently enrolled and in good standing; or (c) be an immediate family member of one of these individuals and hold a derivative nonimmigrant visa;
  • The individual must have committed no crime in the United States;
  • If applying to depart from the U.S. and subsequently re-enter, the purpose of the travel must be for an exigent family-related emergency or for the business need of an employer. The travel abroad would be for a duration of no longer than two weeks; and
  • Business travel abroad would not include passage through the countries covered by the executive order. Personal travel abroad for exigent family-related emergencies may allow for travel to any country on a case-by-case basis.

As of the afternoon of Feb. 2, individuals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen who have an immigrant or non-immigrant visa are not allowed into the U.S. for 90 days. The issuance of new visas has also been suspended until further notice. Those with green cards are allowed in—although some were denied entry in the chaotic first days following the issuance of the executive order on Jan. 27.

Microsoft isn’t the only technology company considering some sort of legal response to the executive order. Earlier this week, Apple announced that it was considering legal action against the federal government over it. Apple CEO Tim Cook claims that hundreds of employees were affected by the order.

“More than any country in the world, this country is strong because of our immigrant background and our capacity and ability as people to welcome people from all kinds of backgrounds. That’s what makes us special,” Cook said, according to The Wall Street Journal. “We ought to pause and really think deeply through that.”

Amazon has also filed a declaration supporting the Washington state attorney general’s lawsuit against the federal government over the order. Other state attorneys general have spoken out, as well.

For the tech industry, which draws a significant portion of its workforce from overseas, the issue of immigration is a particularly fraught one. President Trump is reportedly planning to issue a new directive that would overhaul existing work-visa programs, which could set some tech firms scrambling to adjust.

20 Responses to “Microsoft Seeking Immigration Visa Exemption”

  1. I just love how all these technology companies have fired the US Citizens, bring in immigrants to fill the positions, then cry fowl when the countries these immigrants have come from declare war on us, and our government finally gets up off it’s knees and does something.

  2. billsingh

    Microsoft , perhaps needs a pair of glasses to see the reality on the ground and not be excessively complacent onlooking at thousands of Young and middle aged as well as retiree population ,within the country who are culturally and mentally more adept ,waiting to step in and after a short training of few weeks deliver superior work than a imported worker.Industry captains must open their eyes to this reality,foreign workers and offshore based companies hurt our tax base significantly . Time to ramp up and be awake at the driver seat .

  3. I understand that there is an effort to link the H1B scam with more sympathetic causes. The tech CEOs claim that Americans aren’t qualified but that’s a lie.
    Microsoft has a 6 month off policy. They’ll pass you over for things like no experience with VSO, even though you got 15 years of C#. They’ll pass you over because you only did Windows Phone 8.1 programming but not Windows Phone 10. They’ll pass you over because you got 10 years of web services but only 1 month of Rest API.
    Other tech companies. They’ll pass you over for not having experience with Selenium. They’ll pass you over because you been laid off too many times.
    They’ll be offering a 6 month contract, but they’ll be like hey you got too many short contracts on your resume. They lay you off all time, practically every fiscal year end these days, then they discriminate because you haven’t worked any one place for 2 years recently.
    Tech companies used to take people who didn’t even have a degree! Or even experience! If you could code!!!!

  4. Underemployed American

    I have zero pity for the scumbag tech giants who are lining their pockets at the expense of American jobs.

    They charge far too much for inferior products and services. I have no patience trying to talk to an Indian with a thick accent and fake American name when they can’t understand me. It shows me that cheap, taxpayer subsidized corporate welfare matters more than actually doing the best job or having the best product. Companies show no remorse forcing Americans to train their foreign replacements and then lie to our useless Congress about “not finding qualified Americans” knowing full well they trained their job thieves!

    I refuse to buy anything Apple and am moving my whole system to Linux. I hate dealing with Bill Gates the liar. For a philanthropist he is short sighted and unAmerican. Google, Facebook, and Tesla all commit the same crimes against Americans. They can sell their overpriced garbage to other countries because they won’t get my support!

  5. Techslave

    It is interesting that people are so angry over this article. I’ve worked in the tech industry for over 15 years, 2 of my 3 jobs were created by an immigrant entrepreneur.
    I too have been frustrated with my ability to find a tech related job these past years since 2008 but it never occurred to me that the less than 1% of H1B visa holders in the tech industry were to blame. I haven’t done a lot of research to estimate that number but I know that there is a yearly cap on H1b visas that equates to less than 1% of our current population. I also know that the workers invited to the US are usually bringing some real expertise needed by the company sponsoring them to the table. My last company brought in several H1B people at a large expense to them but they were all PhD experts in their fields and had research and development of specific things our company needed under their belt. We were better off and more successful and able to hire more natural born citizens with them on board. The failure of our country to create a solution to the slowing economy isn’t because of these very few people. Besides when the job ends so does their Visa and they are forced to leave the country again. But you want to blame them go ahead focus your energy towards hating instead of improving yourself for the job hunt just remember this every human on this earth only wants to be able to have a decent enough life to support their family. They aren’t trying to ruin yours just because they don’t happen to be born on US soil.

  6. Hopefully this travel moratorium will wake up not only tech companies but all facets of industry in the United States to hire AMERICANS FIRST.

    In my networking groups, over 70% of displaced workers are IT professionals whose jobs have been sent over seas or replaced by green card workers. Like me, we are well educated, dedicated, certified IT workers who want to work.

    Wake up tech companies, the solution to your short staffing is right here in America!

  7. Poor, poor Microsoft (and Facebook, Google, Twitter and many other “top” companies). I have no sympathy for them. If they were to employ the abundant American tech talent, the top management may have to live on a couple million dollars less. Too bad.

  8. I’m an ex-Microsoft employee and the answer needs to be “Hell NO”.

    The foreigners at Microsoft, especially the current CEO, are extremely racist ANTI-AMERICAN and do everything possible to discriminate against hiring American workers.

    If you walk through the halls of virtually any building at the main Redmond, WA campus it’s rare to hear people speaking English.

    Bill Gates was the original anti-Americanist who went before congress and started the lie that “There aren’t enough American IT workers…” while he fired Americans to hire more Indians.

    For me, shut down Microsoft or let them follow through with their threat to move to Canada. The world, and the US will not miss Microsift or any of their dishonest lies.

  9. Techexec

    The influx of foreign tech and software workers is just the tip of the iceberg if the tech Giants get their way. Not only are countries like India working to get a majority control of application integration but also flocking to job service companies to create a conduit of foreign workers to be hired. Wake up and see what is transpiring here and push for more STEM dollars to train our American families!

  10. Want to see what’s really happening?–jNQYNgA This was ten years ago – and nothing has changed. In the case of Microsoft, they laid off 18,000 AMERICAN workers – then cried that they needed more H-1Bs!–senator-blasts-microsoft-s-h-1b-push-as-it-lays-off-18-000-workers.html

    These companies have been actively avoiding hiring American workers for at least 15 years…–jNQYNgA

  11. Tough. I am sick and tired of companies not giving perfectly acceptable US tech works the opportunity to learn and grow with the job. None of them are willing to invest in their employees to satisfy project requirements. The old excuse of not have a labor market not having the expertise. Well duh, that’s because companies no longer want to invest US tech workers and give the a livable wage.

    It’s s all dis gusting and reprehensible.

  12. I work in IT consulting and we are forced to hire non-citizen because US citizens don’t have the skills our clients require. Oh, the biggest culprits aren’t the large companies that so many on this list are blaming….it’s our government.

    We need to work on training our citizens to have these skills. Keeping a focus on STEM and training the people who are in the labor market. Just blocking H1B’s is not the answer. Education is.

  13. BC Shelby

    …since there seems to be a shortage of experienced candidates, maybe the Gates Foundation and other philanthropic organisations could see fit to underwrite the cost of such technical training for older US citizens who would be more than happy to learn a new trade to get out of dead end and declining occupations.

    Also, Microsoft, along with other tech companies, needs to stop the practise of ageism as well. I am in my early 60s and have been teaching myself 3D CG and 3D modelling as well as personally built my own dedicated CG workstation at the age of 58. Many of us older folks still have the creative and technical savvy as well as are able to handle technical change.

  14. lost my job at msft and they gave it to someone they now pay half of what i made and what made it tough for me was that i just got a promo and was told i was a top 5% performer. if i had not gotten the promo i would not have been on radar for a cut as it eas based on what my salary was. please hire American!

  15. GhostElk

    That is great Microsoft has gotten rid of most over 55 yoa persons who are more than qualified and replaced us with out of country persons. How about putting us back to work or are we still to old to work????

  16. I have best solution for this.
    We know that americans dont work like immigrants. Why can’t these companies take there infrastructure and go to other country and build company over there.
    Then they can get more profits because of low cost labor.

  17. 3rdWorldFlood

    Another great article on the proposed reform of these scam visas. As always the comments are the best part and very informative. I truly hope these visa are all but eliminated through massive reform.

  18. Jerry Falk

    It’s money, that’s all it is. Apple, Microsoft and Google and thousands more just want to keep wages down, ​And by hiring foreign worker​s they save on salaries and keep unemployment higher for American workers. Like they aren’t making a big profit already. And Apple and maybe Google and others have factories in other countries and profits hidden over seas and have not paid taxes on them. These kind of businesses are holding this country down and Trump ought to make examples of them.​ Trump wants to make America great again and Google, Microsoft, Apple and others want to keep America poor while they make a fortune hiring alien workers.​ There not fooling anyone, they are a bunch of frigging whining unpatriotic scum. It’s the money.