Eric Schmidt who is the executive chairman of Google's
(GOOGL, Tech30) parent company Alphabet, speaks up on the issue of the
government limiting the grants of H-1B work visas.
Schmidt said at an event at MIT's Computer Science and
Artificial Intelligence Lab, "The single stupidest
policy in the entire American political system was the limit on H-1B visas".
Schmidt, here, is referring to the annual cap of 85,000
H-1B visas (20,000 of which are reserved for advanced degree holders).
The H-1B visa that is widely used by the IT industry has
become a particularly popular topic under the Trump’s administration, which has
specified a desire to overhaul the program to weed out fraud and abuse of the
Currently, the visas are issued through a lottery system,
which the White House has also mentioned it would likely to change to ensure
that they're only need to be granted to the "most-skilled or highest
President Trump said in April, "Right now, H-1B
visas are awarded in a totally random lottery manner, and that's wrong,"
when he signed an executive order that set the wheels in motion for H-1B
What the administration hasn't noted, though, is changing
the actual quota. It is what Schmidt likely to be talking about and it's a
reform that's pushed in Silicon Valley more widely. FWD.us, a group focused on
immigration reform launched by Mark Zuckerberg and other tech CEOs in 2013, has
advocated to increase the annual quota to meet the requirements.
A total of 199,000 H-1B visa applications were received this
year just within the first five days of the application period. The outsized
number of applications means that firms like Alphabet may not be able to secure
visas to keep talented foreigners working at their companies.
Schmidt said "We want skilled workers to work for us
and not with our rivals, we want 100% market share of all those people!” whose
comments were met with applause. "We want the best people in the world,
regardless of any form of sex, race, and country"
According to an analysis from Quartz, Alphabet is the
only large tech firm that has ramped up its immigration lobbying efforts in the
first quarter of this year.
Schmidt was one of the tech execs that met with Trump in
December to discuss jobs and using tech to make the government more efficient.
But, relations with the new administration have increasingly become complex,
beginning with the controversial travel ban rejected by many tech leaders.
Schmidt added "I'm not going to make the moral
argument because that's pretty obvious," and made it clear that he was
speaking from a business perspective when it came to H-1B reform.