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 program.
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 paid" applicants.
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 reform.
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.