A new Bill introduced in the United States Congress seeks to tighten the criteria to obtain an H-1B visa. The Bill introduced by senators Chuck Grassley and Dick Durbin also “explicitly prohibits” replacing American workers with visa holders, Computerworld reported on Thursday. If passed, the legislation will end the annual distribution of H-1B visas through a lottery, but foreign students graduating from American universities will be given priority.
The new law will make it mandatory for all employers seeking to hire H-1B visa holders to “first make a good-faith effort to recruit American workers”. Other provisions in the proposed legislation include “enhancing” the ability of the US Department of Labor to conduct investigations and giving preference to those with advanced degrees.
In a statement, Grassley said the US Congress had originally created the visa programmes to “complement America’s high-skilled workforce, not replace it”. “Unfortunately, some companies are trying to exploit the programmes by cutting American workers for cheaper labour.” Durbin, on the other hand, criticised companies that used “loopholes in the laws to displace qualified American workers and facilitate the outsourcing of American jobs”.
The legislation is likely to spark concerns among companies in the IT sector, which often use the H-1B and L1 work visa programmes to hire Indian professionals. If these new rules are brought in, Indian and US companies like Cognizant, IBM and others will be among the most-affected.
Incoming US president Donald Trump had made immigration control a key plank of his election campaign. Following his victory in the November 8 presidential polls, Trump’s attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions had told legislators that Americans should not suffer for “someone willing to take a job for less pay”.