“NC Senate leader seeks ban on companies using state incentives to hire visa workers”

The Charlotte Observer

“Companies that rely on foreign workers brought to the U.S. through a popular visa program would face new restrictions in North Carolina, under a plan by Senate Republican leader Phil Berger to shake up the rules for state economic development incentives.

“The proposed changes would block companies from counting H-1B visa workers toward the jobs they commit to create in North Carolina in exchange for funds from the Job Development Investment Grant program. The grants…have helped secure major expansions and relocations in recent years…

“…Companies receiving the incentives grants could still hire H-1B workers, just not apply them to job-creation targets, Berger's office said.

“…Critics of the measure say it could harm North Carolina's ability to attract companies, especially technology firms that rely heavily on the visa workers, such as Apple and Amazon.

“…‘In terms of the specific legislation in North Carolina, we aren't aware of other states that have taken this approach,’ Fwd.us…said in a statement.

“The organization…said highly skilled immigrants provide a boost to the U.S. economy through their spending and by creating jobs for native-born Americans.

“…Nimish Bhatt, board vice chair at the Carolinas Asian-American Chamber of Commerce, is among those concerned about the move. North Carolina is already grappling with a shortage of skilled tech workers, and Berger's ban could cause such companies to choose another state for expansions or relocations, he said.

“…It's the latest scrutiny of H-1B visas, a decades-old federal program that lets companies bring foreign workers to the U.S. temporarily to fill jobs requiring highly skilled labor. 

“…Employers say the program helps them fill jobs that draw too few qualified applicants. In the Charlotte metro area, as many as 14,000 H-1B workers are spread across banking and other industries, according to Bhatt…

“…Critics…have said the visas are being abused to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor.”

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