June 5th, 2008 | Published in Google Public Policy
As was the case last year, tens of thousands of highly skilled individuals hoping to work in the United States recently learned that they'll be unable to do so. About 163,000 H-1B applications were filed this year, significantly more than the 65,000 cap. Those lucky enough to win the H-1B lottery will be allowed to work in the U.S., but the rest will be turned away.
As for Google, this year we submitted 300 H-1B applications, and we're sorry to report that 90 hopefuls were denied. The yearly H-1B lottery continues to affect our employees and our business, which is why we continue to urge the U.S. government to increase the artificially low cap on these visas.
We realize that many people have strong views on the topic of immigration. Some commenters to our recent post on H-1Bs criticized Google for not hiring more Americans. Although we're committed to hiring outstanding American candidates, Google hires employees based on skills and qualifications, not on nationality. Many times our strongest candidates are Americans; in fact, about nine out of ten of our U.S.-based employees are citizens or permanent residents. But if we're to remain an innovative company -- one that is creating jobs in the U.S. every day -- we also need to hire exceptional candidates who happen to have been born elsewhere. After all, if we were to hire only U.S.-born talent, we would effectively close ourselves off from most of the world's population, and tools like Google News and orkut (both of which were invented by former H-1B visa holders) may have never been developed.
Other commenters suggested that Google should fund education for underprivileged American students, to better prepare American students to fill technical jobs. We agree, and that's why for many years we've supported hundreds of students through our scholarship programs, and we've sought to encourage K-12 students nationwide to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering, and math through partnerships with organizations like Citizen Schools, the National Center for Women & Information Technology, and others. We've also worked to build a diverse workforce, recruiting historically-underrepresented computer scientists and engineers and partnering with external organizations committed to diversifying the fields in which we work.
Google receives more than one million resumes each year, and we don't cut corners on talent. Our employees are our greatest competitive advantage and the single most important ingredient to ensuring our future growth and success. Simply put, restricting Google and other tech companies from employing the best and brightest minds is restrictive to our ability to grow and innovate.
We continue to urge the U.S. government to raise the H-1B cap, to ensure that we and other American companies are able to attract, hire, and retain the world's top talent.