Addressing a panel at annual biotech conference BIO in San Diego, senior policy adviser at the US Department of Commerce Sean Reilly voiced concern over inadequate immigration quotas for specialist foreign workers. “We need to communicate more broadly the costs of not allowing talent into the US and make high tech one of our top priorities,” said Mr Reilly.

The number of H1B visas that allow companies to sponsor highly educated foreigners is limited to 85,000 a year. But many in the US, including Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, want legislation to ensure all employers seeking to hire an H1B visa holder prove they have first made an effort to hire a US worker.

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EU plans to fast-track the immigration process for skilled workers could further hit the supply of talent to the US.