In yet another effort to reform the H-1B and L-1 employment visa
programs that allow many skilled foreign workers to work in the US,
two US law makers have introduced a bill- 'H-1B and L-1 Visa
Reform Act of 2016,' in the House of Representatives. This bill
proposes to prevent companies that employ more than 50 people and
more than fifty percent of whose employees are H-1B and L-1 visa
holders from hiring more workers on these visas.
The bill if passed, would greatly impact big Indian IT companies
that are hugely reliant on H-1B and L-1 visas for their businesses.
Infosys, Wipro or TCS that already have more than fifty per cent of
employees on these visas could be potentially prevented from hiring
more professionals on H-1B and L-1 visas. Companies like Facebook
or Microsoft will continue to be able to hire workers on visas
until fifty per cent of their employees are H-1B and L-1 visa
The lawmakers believe that the bill will put to halt the long
standing abuse of the work visa programs by employers and the
exploitation of foreign workers, put back to work qualified
American professionals who have been rendered unemployed, reduce
fraud and abuse and bring about more transparency in the
recruitment of foreign workers. Moreover, the bill would impose
increased penalties for violation of the law.
US employers would be required under the bill to take reasonable
efforts to recruit and hire American workers before bringing in
foreign workers, thereby preventing replacement of American
workers. The bill proposes new wage requirements for H-1B
visa-holders and establishment of wage requirements for L-1
workers. It would also provide more authority to the Departments of
Homeland Security to investigate fraud and abuse in the H-1B and
Outsourcing of American jobs has become quite a critical issue
in the 2016 presidential elections. While there are initiatives
being taken to deter outsourcing of local jobs such as recently
increasing the H-1B and L-1B processing fees, there is no new
regulation or policy to actually restrict or downsize the work visa
program. The 85,000 H-1B cap (out of which 20,000 are for
applicants with US Master's degree) has remained in place for
several years now. Given the current sentiment and concerns
regarding unemployment in the US, it is unlikely that the H-1B cap
will increase in the future. Indian companies will probably have to
rely on local US workforce to fill jobs.
Before the bill is signed into law by the President, it would
need to be approved by the Senate
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