For many years, American technology companies have used a stream of skilled overseas engineers to help make their products.
At this time, many of the companies are worried over the likely changes in immigration policy under new President Donald Trump that they say could hurt the ability to tap into the talent they require to remain competitive.
Trump, who signed a number of executive orders this week related to policy on immigration, is also expected to take similar action on the visa programs available for foreign employees.
A draft of one proposed executive order related to this was leaked during the week. While it was not clear, what the final order will be and the draft has changes to the technology sector supports, some of the language in it alarmed Silicon Valley people.
The tech industry relies a great deal on the visa program that issues H-1B visas, through which the highly, skilled workers such as software engineers are allowed to work in the U.S. for companies such as Microsoft, Intel and Google.
The draft outlines a regulation to restore integrity of the non-immigrants employment based worker programs and consider options to modifying the program that issues H-1B visas to ensure those that benefit the program are the brightest and best.
The language of the draft rattled a number of executives as well as the lawyers representing the tech companies due to implying there would be sweeping changes.
One immigration lawyer in the Bay Area said it was amazing the number of people feeling fear, alarmed over the possible changes and calling the office to figure out what to do.
Some companies started to warn investors of the possible threat to business due to the changes. In one filing Thursday with federal regulators related to financial results, Microsoft added new language related to potential immigration changes.
The language said the changes to the immigration policies in the U.S. that restrain flow of professional and technical talent might inhibit the company’s ability to staff the research and development arm adequately.
Microsoft President Brad Smith said through a prepared statement that the company has the belief of a balanced and strong high-skilled immigration system.
It believes in opportunities on a broader scale for talented law-abiding immigrants such as the Dreamers, which is a reference to the young people who came to the U.S. illegally while young children but were able to remain under President Obama.