Tuberville Leads Legislation to Fix Vulnerabilities in Visa Programs, Prioritizes American Workers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville joined Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 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. This comprehensive 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,” said Senator 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 explicitly prohibits 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.

Importantly, 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. 

In addition, the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act  includes several reforms of the L-1 visa program, including establishment of a wage floor for L-1 workers; authority for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to investigate, audit, and enforce compliance with L-1 program requirements; assurance that intra-company transfers occur between legitimate branches of a company and do not involve “shell” facilities; and a change to the definition of “specialized knowledge” to ensure that L-1 visas are reserved only for truly key personnel.

A copy of the bill text can be found here.

Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.