Home/ News / World/  H-1B visa: New legislation on hiring, payment introduced in US Congress

American lawmakers have introduced legislation in the House of Representatives that stops employers from hiring foreign H-1B workers if they have recently or plan to, furlough their US workers and requires employers to pay their H-1B workers more than their American workers. Introduced by Republican Congressmen Mo Brooks, Matt Gaetz and Lance Gooden the American Jobs First Act proposes to overhaul the H-1B visa program by making necessary changes in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

What is the American Jobs First Act

  • Stops employers from hiring foreign H-1B workers if they have recently, or plan to, furlough their US workers
  • Requires employers to pay their H-1B workers more than their American workers to ensure foreign labour is only used when absolutely necessary
  • Suspends the F-1 OPT program, which grants all foreign students extendable work permits and exacerbates job market competition among American graduates.
  • Ends the unfair diversity visa lottery program, which fails to serve U.S. interests by issuing 50,000 green cards to foreigners from around the world regardless of their qualifications.

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The H-1B visa program is supposed to give employers a route to recruit the high-skilled talent they need if, and only if, they cannot find a qualified American worker. Due to abuses, the H-1B visa program has become a cheap foreign labour pipeline that major companies abuse to increase profits, at American workers’ expense. Such H-1B abuse has happened at some of the country’s largest corporations. Disney, AT&T, Verizon and Bank of America are but a few players caught in the game of US worker replacement. Due to intense pressure from big business, H-1B reform has been stalled for years, but Americans are hurting, and they cannot wait any longer for relief. Firing American workers only to hire cheap foreign workers to replace them is not only unpatriotic, it’s downright repulsive!" Congressman Brooks said.

What is H-1B visa

The H-1B visa is the most sought after among Indian IT professionals. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

As per the text of the bill released on Wednesday, a foreign guest worker may not be admitted or provided status as an H-1B non-immigrant in an occupational classification unless the petitioner employer has filed with the Secretary of Labor an application stating the employer is offering an annual wage to the H-1B non-immigrant that is the greater of the annual wage that was paid to the US citizen or lawful permanent resident employee who did identical or similar work during the 2 years before the petitioner employer filed such application; or USD 110.

"My American Jobs First Act will bring much-needed reform and oversight to the H-1B visa program to ensure that US workers are no longer disadvantaged in their own country," Brooks said.

"To end the allure of cheap foreign labour, the bill will require employers to pay any H-1B workers a minimum amount of USD 110,000," he said.

“Defending Americans from cheap foreign labour competition should be bipartisan. I urge my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, to put their differences aside and stand up for American workers," Brooks said.

In January, then-President Donald Trump had extended the ban on issuing new H-1B visas till 31 March arguing that the country is having a very high unemployment rate and the US cannot afford to have more foreign workers.

Indian IT professionals, most of whom are highly skilled and come to the US mainly on the H-1B work visas, are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system which imposes a seven per cent per country quota on allotment of the coveted Green Card or permanent legal residency.

-With agency inputs

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Updated: 04 Mar 2021, 10:21 AM IST
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