Microsoft May Shift Jobs Overseas in Response to Immigration Reform

Will the Trump administration’s attempt to revamp immigration policy compel tech firms to move jobs overseas?

In a recent interview with CNBC’s Akiko Fujita, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith cited two White House polices as particularly bothersome to Microsoft. First is the Trump administration’s attempted ban on H-4 visas, which allow the spouses of H-1B visa holders to obtain work. Second is the proposed limiting of international graduates’ ability to work in the U.S. while waiting for their work visas to come through.

Although the federal government hasn’t yet initiated the “sweeping” visa reforms promised by Trump during his presidential campaign, Smith suggested that, should big legislative moves take place, Microsoft might be forced to move tech jobs overseas. In other words, if certain tech employees can’t work in the U.S. due to current law, Microsoft will set them up in another country.

“We don’t want to move jobs out of the United States and we hope that we don’t see decision making in Washington that would force us to do that,” he told the network.

The tech industry relies heavily on H-1B, with companies claiming the visas allow them to source talent unavailable domestically. Critics, of course, argue that firms abuse the system to import cheaper labor. According to a recent survey by The Mercury News, some 71 percent of Bay Area residents (many of whom work in tech) believe that the number of H-1B visas doled out annually should be kept the same or increased.

Despite the White House’s attempts at immigration restriction, the overall number of H-1B visas filed and accepted has gone up during Trump’s time in office. For every 100 workers, Silicon Valley has 2.2 H-1B visa holders; Washington D.C. (and surrounding areas such as Arlington, Virginia) have 2 per 100 employees, suggesting that demand for the visa also remains high in other tech hubs.

However visa reform progresses over the next few years, it remains to be seen whether tech giants such as Microsoft really will shift workforces overseas (or even just to Canada) rather than deal with the U.S. immigration system. Of course, many tech companies don’t have offices in other countries.

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9 Responses to “Microsoft May Shift Jobs Overseas in Response to Immigration Reform”

  1. Simple. Give jobs to Americans, not to India!!

    Any company that says there aren’t enough Americans with the skills is and has been a jock of BS for years.

    Why aren’t companies doing anything about high costs of lawyers?

    STOP THE CRAP WITH H1b and L1 VISAS!!!

    • Alan P

      Dear Microsoft, there are plenty of well-qualified engineers in the USA to more than staff your workforce.

      The truth is, you want unfettered access to revenue from the USA and EU markets, but do not want to pay prevailing market wages for USA and EU talent. You want to staff at half price, and sell at double price. Not very creative, but very predictable. Stockholder driven, and no employee focus at all.

      My suggestion is go ahead, send your jobs to India with the following formula: for the percentage of jobs you send overseas, you give up that same percentage of your market access in the USA.

      Send half your workforce to India, lose half your sales revenue in the USA.

      Works for ME! – How about YOU?

  2. Alan P

    Dear Microsoft, there are plenty of qualified engineers in the USA to more than staff you workforce.

    The truth is, you want unfettered access to USA and EU markets but to not want to pay prevailing market wages. You want to staff at half price, and sell at full price.

    My suggestion is go ahead, send your jobs to India with the following formula: for the percentage of jobs you send overseas, you give up that same percentage of your market access in the USA.

    Send half your workforce to India, lose half your sales revenue in the USA.

    Works for ME! – How about YOU?

  3. Alan P

    Dear Microsoft, there are plenty of well-qualified engineers in the USA to more than staff your workforce.

    The truth is, you want unfettered access to revenue from the USA and EU markets, but do not want to pay prevailing market wages for USA and EU talent. You want to staff at half price, and sell at double price. Not very creative, but very predictable. Stockholder driven, and no employee focus at all.

    My suggestion is go ahead, send your jobs to India with the following formula: for the percentage of jobs you send overseas, you give up that same percentage of your market access in the USA.

    Send half your workforce to India, lose half your sales revenue in the USA.

    Works for ME! – How about YOU?

    • The hard truth is the local talent pool in US is not good enough. I can say that from first hand experience. US companies need good talent from China, India etc..

  4. They always threaten this, the fact is that most jobs that can be easily done overseas already are. There are a few “on the fence” jobs that might move over. In any case, it is good. The US is overcrowded.

  5. Microsoft is broken-ship and need to move to 3rd world shipyard to wreck. So the plan is done. No one can stop that Microsoft is scraped. Sathya take it to your home country and wreck.

  6. Well just keep minimum salary for h1b to 150k than hire any one you like as long as minimum salary is paid. This is not about h1b thos oh s about cheap labor. Go to India and Philippines bor China. It does not matter what you do there in USA you should care about Americans. So please take your job overseas no one cares about Microsoft anyways in decade they have not put out anything that you can not leave without anyway.