In a proposal that will hit Indian IT companies the most, U.S. software giant Microsoft Corporation has suggested a whopping fee of $10,000 (over Rs 5 lakh) for a new category of H-1B visas and $15,000 (more than Rs 7.5 lakh) for permanent residency or Green Card.

This could raise a huge $5 billion over a decade, it said.

Both the new categories of H-1B and Green Cards, according to the Microsoft plan, would have an annual capacity of 20,000 and would be restricted to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

The money thus raised, according to the U.S. company, would be used for the STEM education programmes.

Given that Indian techies grab the maximum number of H-1B visas, such a proposal if accepted by the Congress would hit the Indian IT companies the most.

Such a proposal from Microsoft comes at a time when the visiting External Affairs Minister, S.M. Krishna, is expected to raise the issue of increase in H-1B visas last year in his meeting with the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in New York early this week.

The proposal was revealed at a Washington-based think-tank gathering last week by Brad Smith, general counsel & executive vice president, legal & corporate Affairs, of Microsoft.

He said the money thus raised would be used to generate the necessary skilled manpower in the coming years.

Microsoft currently has an opening of 6,000 jobs in the country, of which more than 3,400 jobs are for researchers, developers and engineers.

“Too few American students -- especially students who have historically been underserved and underrepresented -- are achieving the levels of education required to secure jobs in innovation-based industries,” he said in his remarks to the Brookings Institute, an eminent American think tank.

“An effective national talent strategy therefore needs to combine long-term improvements in STEM education in the United States with targeted, short-term, high-skilled immigration reforms.

“If done right, the latter can help fund the former, and our white paper outlines specific recommendations,” he said.

Microsoft, he said, believes this initiative should include, among other things, funding for states to strengthen K-12 STEM education.

This is by providing additional resources to recruit and train STEM teachers, broaden access to computer science in high school and expand higher education capacity to produce more STEM degrees.

In his speech, Mr. Smith said Congress should create a new, supplemental category with 20,000 visas annually for STEM skills that are in short supply.

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