On November 15, 2017, the House Judiciary committee approved by voice vote a bipartisan legislation to protect American workers. The bill reforms the high skilled visa program i.e. the H-1b visa program.
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif) introduced the bill Protect and Grow American Jobs Act which is expected to close the loopholes used by outsourcing companies to undercut American workers with cheaper workers brought in under H-1B, as seen in recent high-profile cases.
The House Judiciary Committee approved the legislation introduced to curb abuse of the nation’s H-1B Visa system and stop the outsourcing of American jobs.
The changes are expected to ensure that the limited slots under H-1B will instead be available for their intended purpose: to help American companies recruit employees with special skillsets not available in the United States.
The bill includes various changes some of which are:
Updates wage requirements to better align with local market averages: The legislation replaces both the $60,000 wage exemption and the advanced degree exemption in favor of a new formula that is equal to the lesser of $135,000 or the mean wage for applicants’ occupation in their area (but subject to a floor of no less than $90,000). The bill would also require the wage levels in this formula to be indexed for inflation over time.
Increases accountability for H-1B employers: H-1B dependent employers currently need to merely "attest" that they've taken good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers before seeking an H-1B visa for the open position. Under the new legislation, H-1B employers would be required to submit detailed recruitment report summarizing the steps they have taken to recruit U.S. workers; the number of U.S. workers who applied for the job; the number of such workers who were offered the job, whether the workers accepted the offer, and for each worker who was not offered the job, the reason why the job was not offered.
Furthermore, under current law, the lay-off protection only protects an American worker for a period ending 90 days after their employer files an H-1B petition, but even that protection has been rendered meaningless. For a number of years now, the 85,000 annual allotment of H-1B visas has been exhausted in the first week visas become available. Thus, since employers can file petitions six months before the start of a fiscal year, they all such petitions get filed in April of the previous year. No H-1B worker subject to the cap actually starts work until long after the lay-off protection has expired. The bill also provides to lengthen the no-layoff policy for H-1B dependent employers and their client companies for as long an H-1B employee works at the company, which means they cannot layoff equivalent U.S. workers
Bolsters transparency of the program. The legislation would require the Secretaries of Labor and Homeland Security to annually publish a report on the use of the H-1B program including lists of H-1B dependent employers, occupations, wages, worksites and the status of any on-going or completed investigations into misuse of H-1B programs.
Improves oversight of H-1B dependent employers. The legislation authorizes the Department of Labor to conduct periodic investigations of H-1B dependent employers and requires the Department of Labor to review at least five percent of such employers annually. It also ensures that current H-1B penalties, including fines and debarment from the H-1B program, can be levied against any H-1B dependent employer that uses the program to displace American workers. The system requires changes and the changes should be in consideration with the current industry requirements. Please visit www.emandilaw.com for latest news on immigration.
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