Work Visas: Lose the Lottery

The H-1B system needs an overhaul. For now, let's award visas to the highest-paid foreign workers and top graduates from top U.S. schools

The U.S. government will use a random computer lottery to determine which of 163,000 applicants receive the 85,000 work visas it grants this year under the so-called H-1B program. This roster of foreign workers includes some of the world's best and brightest minds. There must be a better way to determine which of them get the nod to work at U.S. companies such as Microsoft (MSFT) and Google (GOOG)—and which must return to their home countries, where they're likely to become our global competitors.

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