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H-1B: Foreign citizens make up nearly three-quarters of Silicon Valley tech workforce, report says

PHOTO: Justin Sullivan/Getty

By Ethan Baron | 17 January 2018

THE MERCURY NEWS — With the debate over immigration to the U.S. as fiery as ever, a new analysis suggests that Silicon Valley would be lost without foreign-born technology workers.

About 71 percent of tech employees in the Valley are foreign born, compared to around 50 percent in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward region, according to a new report based on 2016 census data.

Immigrant techies tend to go to “the center of the action,” Seattle venture capitalist S. “Soma” Somasegar told the Seattle Times.

And Silicon Valley remains the “center of the tech universe,” according to the newspaper. …

Many foreign tech workers are employed under the controversial H-1B visa — intended for specialty occupations — which has become a flashpoint in the U.S. cage fight over immigration, with opponents claiming it lets foreigners steal American jobs. Several companies and UC San Francisco have been accused of abusing the visa program by using it as a tool to outsource Americans’ jobs to workers from far-away lands. …

The Seattle Times did not include in its report a breakdown for Silicon Valley of how many foreign-born tech workers are U.S. citizens, versus visa holders. But the paper’s research indicated that 63 percent of Seattle’s foreign-born tech workers were not American citizens. […]

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