In the years since its implementation by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990, the H-1B visa, which is a popular temporary employment visa, has been a vital part of the U.S. economy. The H-1B visa program allows a multitude of U.S. companies, businesses, organizations, and non-profit institutions to bring over foreign workers who can perform specialized job duties in fields ranging from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to education, business, and medicine.
Any U.S. employer who has utilized the H-1B program can attest to the fact that this program is extremely cumbersome and complex and requires U.S. employers to make multiple disclosures and attestations in order to successfully secure one H-1B approval for a foreign worker. Unfortunately, similar to almost anything related to immigration right now, the H-1B program has come under fire, and its existence and purpose is threatened in the U.S. Senate. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Democrat Senator Dick Durbin have crossed the aisle to join forces on an H-1B Visa Reform Bill that, if passed, will merely serve to hurt the nation’s economy.
The H-1B Visa Reform Bill
The bill proposes radical changes to the already voluminous and convoluted H-1B regulations. Among its key provisions are requiring U.S. companies that have more than 50 staff members and a significant H-1B workforce to recruit for U.S. workers before bringing on any additional H-1B employees. Moreover, in addition to the stringent reporting requirements already in place, the Reform Bill would also require companies to provide the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) with copies of records of its H-1B and L-1 visa employees’ wages, education level, gender, and place of employment.
Additionally, should a company employ more than 100 people, with 15% of the workers on H-1B visas, the company would be automatically audited by the DOL every single year to make sure they are in compliance with all of the new H-1B regulations. If they are found to have made a mistake, they will be fined between $5,000 and $25,000 and will be banned from using the H-1B visa program for at least one year.
Importantly, the new bill also targets the lesser known but equally important L-1 visa, which allows multi-national corporations to transfer their managers, executives, and workers with specialized knowledge to the U.S. in order to grow the U.S. offices of their businesses. The L-1 visa has been critical to expanding the U.S. economy and ensuring that international companies are attracted to the U.S. and want to open offices here. The L-1 visa alone has probably been responsible for creating thousands of jobs for American workers.
The Motivation Behind the Bill
According to a statement by Senator Grassley, he seems to be harboring the misguided belief that H-1B visas take jobs away from Americans. The Senator seems to believe that forcing U.S. companies to conduct recruitment processes will make hiring U.S. workers a first priority for these businesses.
The H-1B Visa Reform Bill would be a disaster if passed. U.S. companies and foreign companies with a presence in the U.S. are already overburdened with the current H-1B system. Making it even more difficult to bring workers here will only encourage companies to downsize or close altogether. Contact your representative to encourage him/her to vote NO on this bill. Continue to check our blog for more information on the latest business visa developments.
Additional Blog Posts
What Immigrants Need to Know About the Government Shutdown, ImmigRantings, October 10, 2013
Problems with the H-1B visa: From Work Horse to Show Pony, ImmigRantings, February 13, 2012