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Business News/ News / World/  H-1B, L-1 visa reform in US will prioritise workers with higher levels of education in these subjects

H-1B, L-1 visa reform in US will prioritise workers with higher levels of education in these subjects

A bill to reform the H-1B and L-1 visa programmes has been introduced in the US Senate.

The US Department of Labor (DOL) will have the authority to place a fee on labour condition applications.

A group of influential lawmakers has proposed bipartisan legislation to overhaul the H-1B and L-1 visa programmes in the United States. The proposed reforms aim to increase transparency in the recruitment of foreign workers and reduce fraud and abuse in the immigration system. The H-1B visa is used by US companies to employ foreign workers with specialised knowledge, while the L-1 visa is issued to professionals already employed by a company in another country who are relocating to a US office.

Reforms proposed by Senators Dick Durbin and Chuck Grassley, with co-sponsors Tommy Tuberville, Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, and Richard Blumenthal, include new wage, recruitment, and attestation requirements for employers hiring H-1B and L-1 workers. Employers will also be required to post H-1B job openings on the Department of Labor (DOL) website, and DOL will have the authority to place a fee on labour condition applications to hire an additional 200 DOL employees.

Also Read: ‘Time running out’, Why H-1B professionals may soon have to leave US

The proposed reforms also prioritise H-1B visa issuance for workers with higher levels of education in Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields and amend the definition of a "specialty occupation" to require a bachelor's degree or higher. The legislation aims to reform the L-1 nonimmigrant programmes by introducing new time limits and evidentiary requirements for petitions from a "new office" and mandating cooperation from the Department of State in verifying foreign affiliates.

The legislation seeks to stop outsourcing companies from exploiting legal loopholes to displace qualified American workers with foreign workers paid sub-par wages and subjected to exploitative working conditions. The reforms put American workers first and ensure that these programmes promote fairness for all workers, according to Grassley.

Also Read: Amid layoffs, USCIS recommends other ways to stay for fired H1B visa workers

Thousands of highly skilled foreign-born workers, including Indians have lost their jobs in the US due to the series of recent layoffs at companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon. According to estimates, nearly 200,000 IT workers have been laid off since November last year.

Industry insiders say that between 30 to 40% of them are Indian IT professionals, a significant number of whom are on H-1B and L1 visas.

(With agency inputs)

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Sounak Mukhopadhyay

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