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.

Related

29 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..

      • Theresa

        You obviously don’t see the hundreds of resumes coming from Americans for IT positions. It simply comes down to the fact these companies can pay 25-30 percent less for H-1B employees. Cheap labor means more money in their pockets.

  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.

  7. Well if a brown skin hating bigot like trump didn’t scrap the H1 visa, dont you think there is something you need to check with your government about why it is needed instead of mouthing filth against people?
    If you have to abuse anyone ask your government to do it at the time of the visa application, not when they already made a decision to settle here leaving other options. That is cheap rowdy thuggish behavior which no person on any visa will tolerate.
    Why didn’t you free the H1 from indentured servitude by at least giving them the option to change jobs once their PR application is approved ? Or are you too afraid your ‘ they are here only because of low wages’ theory will fall flat on its face and your mediocrity will be exposed fully?
    Better to keep these guys as bonded labor and keep abusing them for keeping the salaries down. Feels so good to get a punching bag doesn’t it?

  8. Brian Ahier

    This is a huge problem

    Over half of tech workers in places like Seattle and San Jose are here on work visa’s or in line for green cards. In new home developments outside Seattle (Bothell, Snoqualimie) 80% of home buyers are from India (85% of H1B’s go to people from India). There are now over 1.2 million tech workers in the US from India (and are the fastest foreign born immigrants) who bring their wives and often have 3 kids each which are flooding local schools.

    I have gone to multiple going away parties for US born tech workers over 40 who can’t get hired and are moving to less expansive areas. I am as liberal as you can be (Seattle is uber blue) but we need to stop H1B and send those beyond 3 years home and stop allowing spouses to work. They are taking jobs from US born tech and STEM graduates

  9. “We don’t want to move jobs out of the United States…”

    As someone that worked at Microsoft for several years, I can tell you that this is false. We had plans to grow one of our sites, but then a senior manager made the decision to offshore a bunch of jobs. The excuse they gave was that it was “cheaper.” Even when a senior executive came to our site (different person than the senior manager) and gave a talk, one of the questions was about Microsoft prioritizing jobs (especially in India) rather than in the USA. The executive’s response was that Microsoft didn’t care about jobs located in the US…. at which there was so much booing from the crowd, he stopped answering questions.

  10. I’m tired of hearing the BS comment that American workers aren’t as skilled as overseas workers. If that is the case, then provide training or make certain that the organizations/schools that offer training are training real-world, useful skills so that Americans can get a job. Does Microsoft use Microsoft products such as Visual Studio, C#, and Sql Server? If so, then there are plenty of qualified Americans. There’s free training. Google offers free Android training. There’s no excuse for American workers not to be at par with immigrant workers unless you are saying we are stupid or not as intelligent as foreign workers. Based on the 2016 election, that may be a valid point but that’s a different topic!

    In my company, we have a huge facility in India that employs more R&D workers than in our American facilities. It’s only a matter of time before my job gets offshored.

    I don’t disagree that America’s immigration policies and procedures are completely screwed up but that’s not an excuse for companies to offshore. Immigrant workers in America need to make the same amount of money as American workers if they want to buy a house or eat food. The cost of living is the same, regardless of your birthplace. Companies want to increase H1B workers but I think if Trump really cared about American workers, he would stop the H1B program but then companies would just open facilities in India or some other country and offshore all our jobs. Basically, Americans can’t a fair shake no matter what.

    Americans are at a disadvantage because of the threat of offshoring and what I call, inshoring, which is where foreigners come here for study and then stay here and then we are in competition with them too. In my company, many of the IT workers working in America are Indian and those are jobs that would have previously gone to Americans. Add age and gender discrimination into the mix and it’s not a pretty picture for American workers. It’s unlikely to improve. I don’t have the answers but I sure am glad that I’m not going to be working in IT for too much longer.

  11. US is over crowded. cities losing trees due to new constructions. traffic is 10 times more compared to 10 years ago but no new lanes are coming up. Unable to stop outsourcing, did not implement more tax rate on them. It is up to Microsoft to think if they really interested about US and its citizens. Most of the world just think about ..have babies and send them to US. just how we see at the border.
    It is time to stop or minimize student/work visa, green cards, refugees and family chain green cards. Current and future generations of US kids who born here and doing education will find difficult to get the jobs and they may need to find a country for living if there is no halt to immigration.

  12. Joe Brix

    Microsoft is the devil. Why are we allowing a single software company control so much of the software and OS market? Trump’s import tariff wars will probably put more Americans out of work then jobs dumped by Microsoft. Dump H1 and tell the Indians to go home and work there. America should dump Microsoft and use Linux. Don’t put all our tech resources into just one basket.

  13. Dolly Steiner

    Really?? From when did H4 ban happen to be so bothersome? H4’s are just spouses of H1 ( so called highly skilled workers) . And why should they be working in par in tech industry? H4’s were never legal to work till Obama administration quietly passed the Bill making them legal to work.

    Yes Microsoft you should take your jobs to India or China and good luck !!

  14. Microsoft does not value American engineering and software talent. They do not believe Americans are worth employing. So they’re going to blame the government’s policies. Policies designed to encourage hiring more local, American talent. They value American workers so little, they’ll spend millions to move the work overseas.

  15. Free At Last

    Ah, YET MORE lies from Microsoft and their greedy / corrupt executives.

    What benefit does it provide for American citizens to have “progressive” executives at Microsoft who import dirt cheap 3rd world sharecroppers (errr “workers”) into the USA to lower local wages, work longer hours, and enrich their Indian / Chinese / Russian / other outsourcing companies?

    So, go ahead Brad Smith (and other MSFT execs) — send all of your Microsoft jobs overseas that are already being performed by your imported low skilled / low paid sharecroppers from the 3rd world right now.

    It won’t matter to American workers. But it WILL help President Trump to highlight and publicize what you’ve been doing for the last 20+ years.

  16. US Citizen

    Microsoft’s problem is letting “foreign currency exchange rates and CHEAP LABOR” to replace US Citizens with foreign workers here in the United States. We have PLENTY OF TRADE SCHOOLS, UNIVERSITY COMPUTER SCIENCE CLASSES, COMMUNITY COLLEGES AND VARIOUS OTHER TEACHING SCHOOLS HERE IN THE UNITED STATES. So when they say there are not enough tech people here at home, I laugh. There are still many us citizens OUT OF WORK.