November 27, 2015
U.S. senators introduced bipartisan to reform the country's visa programs, which may affect future U.S. immigration.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., introduced the "H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2015" (S. 2266), which amends the "Immigration and Nationality Act" in an effort to "reduce fraud and abuse in certain visa programs for aliens working temporarily in the U.S., and for other purposes."
If S. 2266 passes the Senate and House of Representatives, in addition to the president's signature the bill would ensure "qualified Americans are given the first opportunity at high-skilled job opportunities."
Based on a press statement from Grassley's senate website, the bill prohibits U.S. companies to employ H-1B employees if the company has more than 50 people and more than 50 percent of the employees are already H-1B and L-1 visa holders. It also would "crack down" on outsourcing companies that import H-1B and L-1 workers into the U.S. but then send the workers to their native country to perform tasks Americans can do.
Durbin and Grassley's bill emphasizes that American workers are not "adversely affected" by H-1B workers, and "explicitly prohibits" replacing American workers with either H-1 or L-1 visa holders.
"The H-1B visa program was never meant to replace qualified American workers, but it was instead intended as a means to fill gaps in highly specialized areas of employment that cannot be filled by Americans," Grassley said in a statement on Nov. 10. "The abuse of the system is real, and media reports are validating what we have argued against for years, including the fact that Americans are training their replacements."
"There's a sense of urgency here for Americans who are losing their jobs to lesser skilled workers who are coming in at lower wages on a visa program that has gotten away from its original intent. Reform of the H-1B visa program must be a priority," Grassley added.
According to Durbin, H-1B and L-1 visa program reforms are "critical" for fixing the U.S. immigration system.
"For years, foreign outsourcing companies have used loopholes in the laws to displace qualified American workers and facilitate the outsourcing of American jobs," said Durbin. "The H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act would end these abuses and protect American and foreign workers from exploitation."
With S. 2266, the U.S. Department of Labor will have "enhanced authority" to investigate, review and audit employers' compliance on program requirements, which may result in penalizing if abusive or fraudulent conduct is found.
S. 2266 has received bipartisan support form Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, along with Republican Sen. Jeff Session of Alabama. Since its Senate introduction, the bill has been referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.