Google makes plea for H-1B visas, U.S. asks for Google software

Google makes plea for H-1B visas, U.S. asks for Google software

Summary: Speaking before a Congressional House Judiciary oversight subcommittee hearing on immigration, Google's Laszlo Bock, vice president of people operations, said that 8 percent of Google's workforce have H-1B visas, and come from 80 different countries. In the news.

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TOPICS: Google, Software
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Speaking before a Congressional House Judiciary oversight subcommittee hearing on immigration, Google's Laszlo Bock, vice president of people operations, said that 8 percent of Google's workforce have H-1B visas, and come from 80 different countries. In the news.com story Bock is quoted as saying, "It is no stretch to say that without these employees, we might not be able to develop future revolutionary products like the next Gmail or the next Google Earth."

He also said that Google wasn't able hire 70 qualified job candidates due to the shortage of H-1B vision. Google currently has more than 2,800 open positions and more than 8,000 U.S. employees, and 12,000 worldwide.

Bock joined the chorus of high tech executives encouraging Congress to increase the annual number of visas and reduce the backlog of green card applications, as an alternative to losing high qualified foreign workers to competitors outside the U.S.

Bock's story isn't different from other high tech companies that are hamstrung by the current allocation of H-1B visas. The hearing took place as the Senate debates a controversial immigration bill, which the Senate passed yesterday, which focused mostly on illegal immigrants. H-1B visas would increase from 65,000 to 115,000 per year, and potentially to 185,000. However, the fee for each H-1B visa is increased and the number of visas still falls short of what technology companies believe is necessary to compete.

The most interesting exchange during Bock's testimony came when Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) asked if Google could implement a system to determine which foreign workers should be granted visas. A current point system proposal would take into consideration factors such as education level, family ties to the U.S., English language skills and occupation.

As Anne Broache reported:

"Could Google produce the software that would identify for us the very top one million people on the globe who would want to apply to come to the United States who could give the best enhancement to our country here?" King asked the company executive.

"It's an interesting question," Bock responded. "I'm sure we'd have lots of people who would want to tackle that problem in their 20 percent time."

I doubt that Bock meant to imply that Google algorithms would be the judge and jury on what foreigners would best 'enhance' the U.S., but it's a scary thought. Then again, the current situation is untenable.

See also: Tech seeing red all over green-card proposal

Transcript of Bock's testimony 

Topics: Google, Software

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5 comments
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  • the last I heard they hired a bunch of programmers with nothing to do

    and they also have a bunch that work on their personal projects eg Jeremy Allison.
    I'd suggest they utilize the programmers they have to work on stuff thats useful to Google instead of flooding the market with programmers to drive down wages.

    Free Market -
    adding H1 workers would be interfering with the free market principles.
    H1-B visa is like providing some kind of subsidy to products to lower their price.
    code_Warrior
  • All for higly skilled visa

    However granting H1-B visa's to programmers is now what I call getting higly skilled workers.
    Getting PhD's on H1-B visa's is getting highly skilled workers. Getting bachelors or even master degree isnt that highly skilled. Increasing H1-B visas is done to do one specific thing i.e DRIVE DOWN WAGES OF PROGRAMMERS.
    zzz1234567890
    • MBA's Need More $ Than Programmers

      Just another example of how the MBA's have to find some way of making more that programmers, we all know they are the ones doing the real work in today's corporations.
      steven.ashley
      • know exactly what you mean.

        A man goes to a pet store. He see's a parrot and is suprised to see the price tag for $1000.

        Customer : what's so special with this parrot that the price tag is $1000.

        Pet Store Owner : This parrot knows how to use a Windows computer

        The man looks around and is suprised to see a different parrot with a price tag of $2000


        Customer : what's so special with this parrot that the price tag is $2000.

        Pet Store Owner : This parrot knows how to use a Windows computer but he knows System Administration too and DBA skills.


        The man looks around and is suprised to see a different parrot with a price tag of $10,000.

        Customer : what's so special with this parrot that the price tag is $2000.

        Pet Store Owner : I'm not sure what exactly his skills are or what he does, but the other two call him Boss.
        zzz1234567890
        • correction : 3rd time Customer - why price tag for parrot is 10K

          The man looks around and is suprised to see a different parrot with a price tag of $10,000.

          Customer : what's so special with this parrot that the price tag is $10,000.

          Pet Store Owner : I'm not sure what exactly his skills are or what he does, but the other two call him Boss
          zzz1234567890