New Visa Rules to Protect American Workers’ Jobs | DCR Workforce Blog

New Visa Rules to Protect American Workers’ Jobs

New Visa Rules to Protect American Workers’ Jobs

The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington D.C. was recently sued for nationality and race-based discrimination by a former employee, a Canadian national. The woman claimed that her boss made her Canadian citizenship a huge issue and blocked her application for permanent resident status and also expressed a desire to hire an American in her place.

The Reform Bill and Its Proposals:

Even as a response from the Metropolitan Police Department is awaited in the case, we have new legislation being introduced with the aim to curtail the number of H-1B visas. The bill looks upon the H-1B visa system as a scheme which exceeded its original intent and resulted in an abuse of the system. It claims that qualified American workers are being sidelined by H-1B holders in a situation that needs to be corrected without further delay.

In the works since 2007, the bill proposes to make sure that the H-1B visas fulfill the purpose that they were originally intended for; that is to allow US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields. It aims to plug the various loopholes which have long been questioned by those who wish to keep immigrant workers out. Here is a list of its proposed changes:

  • The bill proposes to prioritize the annual allotment of H-1B visas and explicitly prohibits replacement of American workers by H-1B or L-1 visa holders.
  • The new system would ensure that the best and brightest students being educated in the United States receive preference for an H-1B visa.
  • The preference system also gives a leg up to advanced degree holders, those being paid a high wage, and those with valuable skills.
  • The bill proposes to stop companies from bringing in foreign workers on low wages to replace qualified American workers by requiring that visas be given to the highest wage earners first.
  • The bill also wants to reduce the number of available visas to 70,000 and wants these visas to also consider the salary levels at which these people are being brought in.
  • With this provision, the bill plans to ensure that only foreign workers with highly specialized skills which are not available in America will be coming into the country while foreign workers willing to work for low wages are kept away.
  • The bill may prohibit an employer from replacing a U.S. worker with an H-1B visa holder by asking them to prove that they made sincere attempts to recruit American workers before hiring an H-1B visa holder.
  • The bill would also prohibit companies from hiring H-1B employees if they employ more than 50 people and more than 50% of their employees are H-1B and L-1 visa holders.
  • The bill requires that the working conditions of similarly employed American workers may not be adversely affected by the hiring of the H-1B worker, including H-1B workers who have been placed by another employer at the American worker’s worksite.
  • The bill proposes to give the Department of Labor enhanced authority to review, investigate and audit employer compliance as well as to penalize fraudulent or abusive conduct.
  • The bill also wishes to establish the following restrictions on L-1 visas:
    • A wage floor for L-1 workers
    • Authorize the Department of Homeland Security to investigate, audit and enforce compliance with L-1 program requirements
    • Ensure that intra-company transfers occur between legitimate branches of a company and don’t involve “shell” facilities;
    • Defines “specialized knowledge” to ensure that L-1 visas are reserved only for truly key personnel.

 

Everyone agrees that the H-1B program allows employers to access critical skills needed by them to fill the skill gaps which make it difficult for them to grow their business and manage it efficiently.

Top Occupations Filling for H1-B

Low costs, hard work and high compliance make these workers attractive to employers. Companies like IBM, Microsoft, Facebook and Google lobby to have the annual H-1B visa quota increased so as have better access to skilled workers. It is clear from the statistics on H-1B filing in 2014 that many technology roles are dependent on these visa holders to fill them.

The publicity and adverse reaction to the hiring of immigrants by Disney for IT work and the offshoring of jobs by Toys ‘R’ Us have made the possibility of increasing the H-1B quota even more difficult, if not impossible. It is to be seen how companies will be able to negotiate their way through these ‘reforms’ as they struggle to succeed in a competitive market.

Do comment and share your views on the possible effects of these reforms.


Disclaimer:
The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.