A new bill to tighten the H-1B visa usage & program – and take action against foreign outsourcing organizations – was proposed by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dick Durbin, D-Illinois.
“Congress created the H-1B and L-1 visa programs to complement America’s high-skilled workforce, not replace it,” Grassley said. “Unfortunately, a few organizations are trying to exploit the programs by cutting American workers for cheaper labor.”
While some such as Grassley and Durbin have censured the H-1B program. Defenders say it’s expected to give access to required talent, including tech workers.
However, it’s unlikely this bill will become regulation given the partisan divide, said Mark Roberts, CEO of the TechServe Alliance. The partisan divide is especially acute on immigration issues.
“If it somehow happened to become regulation, it would be highly disruptive to the IT staffing industry making access to H-1B applicants more difficult,” Roberts said. “It would exacerbate the challenge in meeting client needs amidst an already severe technical talent shortage.”
A bill that would toughen H-1B Visa Usage
The bill, named the “H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act,” would, according to Grassley and Durbin:
- Require US Citizenship and Immigration Services to prioritize the yearly allocation of H-1B visas to guarantee the “best and brightest” STEM advanced degree students educated in the US would get preference for an H-1B visa. It would also prioritize different US advanced-degree holders, those being paid a high wage and those with valuable skills.
- Prohibit the replacement of US workers by H-1B or L-1 visa holders and explain that working conditions of similarly employed US workers may not be adversely impacted by the recruiting of an H-1B worker, including H-1B workers who have been placed by another employer at the US worker’s worksite.
- Moreover, prohibits organizations with more than 50 employees – of which at least half are H-1B or L-1 holders – from recruiting extra H-1B employees. This is, the senators said, aimed at outsourcing companies that import enormous numbers of H-1B and L-1 workers. For temporary training purposes only to send the workers back to their home nations to do the same job.
- Require the production of statistical data about the H-1B and L-1 programs. Including wage data, worker education levels, place of environment, and gender.
Also, the bill, which is numbered S. 3720, has been referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.