CFGI Quoted – “Reintroduced Legislation Focuses on H-1B Visa Reforms”

2/1/2017
SHRM


“Lawmakers from both parties are reintroducing immigration-related bills to limit the use of H-1B visas for skilled foreign guest workers.

“Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., reintroduced a bill that would eliminate the H-1B visa lottery system in which visa petitions are granted at random and, in its place, create a preference system awarding priority to foreign students who are educated in the U.S.; hold advanced degrees, especially in…STEM…fields; and who are offered the highest wage for jobs for which they apply.

“…The legislation has been proposed in successive sessions of Congress and was last proposed in 2015.

“…Advocates for skilled immigration assert that provisions in the proposal will burden employers. ‘Sen. Grassley's bill would place H-1B-dependent employer…and willful violator requirements on all H-1B employers, not just bad actors, making it difficult for employers acting in good faith to access the talent they need given skills gaps today,’ said Rebecca Peters, director of government affairs at the Council for Global Immigration (CFGI)…

“…‘While at CFGI we believe that the H-1B visa program can be strengthened and improved to meet the needs of employers and employees alike, any changes must maintain the program's use as a valuable tool that allows American employers acting in good faith to access the talent they need to compete, grow and win in the global economy.’

“Peters said that ultimately the prioritization scheme would make it very difficult for U.S. employers to access foreign talent educated outside of the U.S., noting that under these priorities, highly educated students from foreign universities…would be almost off-limits.

“…In the House of Representatives, Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., have reintroduced separate, smaller-scale proposals aimed at limiting how employers petition for H-1Bs.

“Issa's legislation makes changes to the exemptions…for H-1B-dependent employers… visas.

“…The bill raises the $60,000 salary minimum to $100,000 and includes an inflation adjustment. It also eliminates the master's degree exemption.

“…Lofgren's bill allots visas to employers who offer the highest salaries. She described it as a market-based solution that gives priority to those companies willing to pay the most.

“‘What the bill does is collapse today's four-tier wage system to a three-tier system, effectively eliminating the entry-level wage and inflating the wage at the other three levels,’ Peters said. ‘Then on top of the new three-tier wage system the bill would prioritize H-1Bs for those employers who pay 200 percent of the prevailing wage and then 150 percent of the prevailing wage at each wage level,’ she continued. ‘This prioritization will impact employers by making it extremely difficult to ever access an entry-level worker and in a number of instances put employers in a position of paying foreign national workers more than similarly situated U.S. workers—a challenge for employers who must not treat similarly situated U.S. workers and foreign national workers differently.’”

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