July 20, 2016
July 20, 2016
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is today announcing new, bipartisan legislation to stop the outsourcing of American jobs by companies abusing the H1-B visa program. H.R. 5801, the “Protect and Grow American Jobs Act,” led by Congressman Darrell Issa, is introduced with support from the entire San Diego Congressional Delegation, industry stakeholders, and immigration policy leaders including Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX).
Rep. Darrell Issa: “First and foremost, this bill is about protecting American jobs. The high-skilled visa program is critical to ensuring American companies can attract and retain the world’s best talent. Unfortunately, in recent years, this important program has become abused and exploited as a loophole for companies to replace American workers with cheaper labor from overseas. The bill we’ve put forward is simple, bipartisan and will go a long way to fixing one of the many problems with our broken immigration system.”
Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.): “Innovators across San Diego rely on high-skilled visas to maintain a talented workforce. To ensure these visas are available for those who need them, we need strong systems in place to prevent abuse and protect jobs for American workers. This commonsense fix updates our high-skilled visas to reduce abuse of the system and ensure a level playing field for American workers. I will continue to push for a bipartisan fix to our broken immigration system so we can create economic opportunity and enhance our security.”
Rep. Lamar Smith: “American workers and taxpayers deserve an immigration system that puts them first. H.R. 5801 updates the H-1B visa program to protect the wages and opportunities of hardworking Americans. I appreciate Rep. Issa’s commitment to improving the H-1B system.”
The bill introduced by Congressman Issa closes a major loophole in our high skilled immigration system. The H1-B program was created by congress to help grow the economy by granting temporary visas to highly skilled individuals when employers could not find suitable employees in the American work force. Over time, it became clear that some employers were abusing the system and disproportionately hiring foreign workers. To fix that, the law was changed in 1998 to put certain requirements on employers wishing to hire H1-Bs.
Included in those changes were requirements for employers that had more than 15 percent of their employers on H1-Bs to file attestations that suitable American employees could not be found. Exemptions were also created for these employers to reduce the burden of the attestations if certain criteria were met. Two of these exemptions have been widely abused:
– The H-1B employee earns at least $60,000 annually
– The H-1B employee holds the equivalent of a master’s degree or higher
Because Masters degrees are often easily obtained by foreign workers and the $60,000 salary requirement was never indexed for inflation or updated, these two exemptions have allowed dependent companies to flood the H1-B lottery with applications and take up a disproportionate amount of the visas that would otherwise go to highly skilled individuals that would not be working at dependent companies and would not displace American workers.
The bill introduced by Reps. Issa and Peters eliminates the Masters Degree exemption and raises the $60,000 threshold to $100,000, making it much harder for firms to bring in workers at a salary that could undercut American jobs.