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Google urges US to increase H-1B visas

The Internet search giant highlights the contribution of its foreign-origin workers and urges US to raise H-1B visas.

world Updated: Jun 07, 2007 13:56 IST

Internet search giant Google on Thursday urged the US government to raise the number of H-1B visas by highlighting the contributions of its co-founder Sergey Brin and the company's principal scientist Krishna Bharat, both foreign-origin workers.

In Congressional testimony, Google Vice President of people operations Laszlo Bock cited the emigration of the parents of company co-founder Sergey Brin from the Soviet Union to the United States in 1979 as evidence that admitting foreign workers into the country benefits the US Economy.

"We opened our doors to Sergey's parents -- a mathematician and an economist," said Bock.

"Our educational system served Sergey well -- he attended the University of Maryland and Stanford University. Our free market economy supported Sergey and Larry's entrepreneurship and rewarded it when they proved that they could turn their idea into a successful business."

Bock said people were Google's most vital competitive asset and without these talented employees and others, the company and high-tech industry as whole would not be the success it is today.

Krishna Bharat, a native of India joined Google in 1999 through H-1B visa, and was one one of the chief creators of Google News and is now its principal scientist.

Bock said without Krishna and many other employees Google "will not be able to offer innovating and useful new products to our users."

Each day Google finds itself unable to pursue highly qualified candidates because there are not enough H-1B visas, he said adding it will encourage Congress to significantly increase the annual cap of 65,000 H-1B visas to "reflect the growth rate of our technology driven-economy."

Bock said Google is not the only Silicon Valley company to benefit from immigration. "In fact, Google is just the most recent story for immigrants in Silicon Valley. Intel, eBay, Yahoo, Sun Microsystems, and many other companies were all founded by immigrants who were welcomed by America".

Over the last 15 years, foreign nationals have started 25 per cent of US venture-backed public companies, accounting for more than $500 billion in market capitalisation and adding significant value to our economy, he noted.

"Hiring and retaining the most talented employees regardless of national origin essential to US ability to compete globally. Companies like Google will benefit from improving our policies towards non-US workers including in the area of H-1B so that we can continue innovating and growing."

Bock said some 8 per cent of Google's US employees are in this country on a six-year H-1B visa because the company's "need to find the specialised skills required to run our business successfully requires us to look at candidates from around the globe -- many of whom are already in the US studying at one of our great universities."

"We are not the only ones recruiting talented engineers, scientists and mathematicians. We are in a fierce worldwide competition for top talent unlike ever before. As companies in India, China and other countries step up efforts to attract highly skilled employees, the US must continue to focus on attracting and retaining these great minds," he said.

In the knowledge-based economy companies depend primarily on their employees for their success. "America's edge depends on the ability of US companies abilities to innovate...And that ability to innovate and create, in turn, depends on having the best and brightest workers," he added.

The H-1B visa programme allows foreign scientists, technologist and engineers to work in the US for six years.

First Published: Jun 07, 2007 10:50 IST