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Republican Prez hopeful bats for raising H-1B quota

By Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington
Last updated on: November 02, 2007 12:14 IST
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A leading Republican Presidential hopeful has thrown his weight behind the H-1B visa programme stressing that bringing high skilled workers on a permanent basis to the US will be beneficial to the economy.

Former Massachusetts Gover Mitt Romney has said that while he is for increasing the quota for H-1B visa, a majority of whose aspirants are Indians, the exact figures would depend on a number of things including the strength of the US economy and the implications for the local workforce.

"I like H-1B visas. I like the idea of the best and brightest in the world coming here. I'd rather have them come here permanently rather than come and go, but I believe our visa programme is designed to help us solve gaps in our employment pool," he said in an interview to TechCrunch, a weblog dedicated to profiling and reviewing new internet products and companies.

"Where there are individuals who have skills that we do not have in abundance here, I'd like to bring them here and contribute to our economy," he added.

The Republican contended that in the "competitive" global environment, the US would stay the most powerful nation in the world only with superior technology and innovation. "And if we need additional folks who have skills that can contribute to our country then by all means lets welcome them in and if we see that our kids are not competing in certain areas, lets help them understand what they need to become competitive," he added.

Romney was asked if the H-1B quota should be increased, there should be no quota at all or if the United States should let in everyone who is qualified.

Romney said the US needed "more H-1B visas, not less", but the exact number would follow a review of a number of things on regular basis.

These are "What's the overall economy doing? What's happening to the size of our workforce... what's happening to our own capacity in the jobs that are being requested...what are the demands from our employers," he said.

Romney also said that while American has to compete globally, it would have to get serious with a country like China on the issue of intellectual property rights.

"The only way America is going to remain the worlds superpower is if we can compete globally, so I want to open more markets to our goods and I will negotiate with other nations to do so. At the same time I want to make sure that our trading with other nations is done on a fair basis.

"When a nation like China does not honour our intellectual property rights then we're going to have to get serious with our Chinese friends and say guys you just can't do that or youre going to suffer consequences in our markets," said the Republican aspirant for contesting the Presidential elections next year.

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Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington
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