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Remove cap on H1B visa and Green Card: New York Mayor

Posted on June 17, 2011
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WASHINGTON: Calling for a comprehensive immigration reform that gives more opportunities to high-skilled workers from countries like India , New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has demanded removal of Congressional mandated cap on H-1B visas and Green Cards.

“We must stop telling US companies that they cannot hire the high-skilled workers they need. By making it difficult for them to obtain temporary and permanent visas for high-skilled workers, the federal government is slowing growth and worse, promoting the outsourcing of American jobs,” Bloomberg said in his address to the Council on Foreign Relations.

“Make no mistake about it: If companies can’t hire the workers they need here, they will move those operations out of the country. You just have to look at Microsoft’s recent decision to open a research park in Vancouver,” he said.

Arguing that the ability to attract and keep high-skilled labour is essential for US companies competing on the world market, Bloomberg said that’s true not only for high-tech companies but also for banks and insurance, pharmaceutical and other companies.

“But right now, the cap on H1-B visas and Green Cards is much too low. And caps on Green Cards are set by countries, so Iceland actually gets the same number of visas as India. That may be fair to those two countries, but it’s certainly not fair to American business and to Americans,” Bloomberg said.

The New York Mayor said there should be an end to these arbitrary limits and the cap on the high-skilled H1-B visas.

“Let the marketplace decide. It’s basic free-market economics, and both parties ought to be able to get behind it,” he said.

Bloomberg said it must be ensured that major industries, like agriculture and tourism, that rely on those workers just starting up the economic ladder, have access to foreign workers when they cannot fill the jobs with American workers.

“These employers want a legal workforce but our current system just makes that extremely difficult. Firms have to go through multiple levels of approvals to do basic hiring,” he said.

Citing the example of Georgia, Bloomberg said farm owners are experiencing severe labour shortages that’s driving up their cost and leaving crops unharvested due to the crack down on illegal farm workers. “At a time when food prices are rising, this is the last thing American consumers and farmers need,” the New York Mayor said.

“Finally, we must begin allocating more Green Cards based on economic needs. Right now, only about 15 percent of all Green Cards go to employees and their dependents, while the rest go largely to immigrants, families and relatives,” he said.

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