U.S. SenatorTommy Tuberville joined Senators Chuck Grassley and Dick Durbin to introduce the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act, which aims to reduce fraud and abuse, provide protections for American workers and visa holders, and require more transparency in the recruitment of foreign workers.
According to Tuberville’s press release, the overhaul of the H-1B and L-1 visa programs will protect American workers and crack down on foreign outsourcing companies, which exploit these visa programs to deprive qualified Americans of high-skilled jobs.
“For too long, loopholes in our immigration system have been exploited to find cheap labor at the expense of the American worker. That must change. This legislation will crack down on the manipulation of existing vulnerabilities to ensure employers prioritize the American worker before considering any high-skilled foreign applicants. If we are going to get our economy back up and running, we need to do it correctly and that begins with utilizing the talent we have here at home first and foremost,” stated Tuberville.
First introduced in 2007, the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act will require U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to prioritize for the first time the annual allocation of H-1B visas. The new system would ensure that the best and brightest STEM advanced degree students educated in the United States receive preference for an H-1B visa, and also prioritize other U.S. advanced degree holders, those being paid a high wage, and those with valuable skills.
The legislation will prohibit the replacement of American workers by H-1B or L-1 visa holders and clarifies that the working conditions of similarly employed American workers may not be adversely affected by the hiring of an H-1B worker, including H-1B workers who have been placed by another employer at the American worker’s worksite.
The legislation will crack down on outsourcing companies that import large numbers of H-1B and L-1 workers for temporary training purposes only to send the workers back to their home countries to do the same job. Specifically, the bill would prohibit companies with more than 50 employees, of which at least half are H-1B or L-1 holders, from hiring additional H-1B employees. The bill gives the U.S. Department of Labor enhanced authority to review, investigate, and audit employer compliance with program requirements, as well as to penalize fraudulent or abusive conduct. It requires the production of extensive statistical data about the H-1B and L-1 programs, including wage data, worker education levels, place of employment, and gender.
“Congress created the H-1B and L-1 visa programs to complement America’s high-skilled workforce, not replace it. Unfortunately, some companies are trying to exploit the programs by cutting American workers for cheaper labor. We need programs dedicated to putting American workers first. When skilled foreign workers are needed to meet the demands of our labor market, we must also ensure that visa applicants who honed their skills at American colleges and universities are a priority over the importation of more foreign workers. Our bill takes steps to ensure that the programs work for Americans and skilled foreign workers alike,” Grassley stated.