- Lawmakers are bringing back a bipartisan bill on revising the H-1B visa program, reports CNN Money. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Dick Durban (D-IL) are reintroducing their bill to replace the current lottery system for granting visas with a system that gives preference to foreign nationals who were educated in the U.S. and to those with advanced degrees and high-level skills.
- Applications for the highly in-demand visas in 2016 were three times the yearly limit of 85,000. H-1B visas were designed to fill mostly tech jobs with higher-paid, highly skilled workers. Members of Congress have debated the H-1B visa program for years, largely over outsourcing firms hijacking the program by hiring lower-skilled workers and paying them less than they would U.S. workers.
- Grassley and Durbin’s H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act bill also expands the Labor Department’s authority to review, audit and investigate companies sponsoring H1-B visas and L-1 visas, which are for workers employed in American firms abroad who request work in the U.S.
President Donald Trump has said he would “crack down” on the H-1B visa program. CNN claims that Senators Grassley and Durbin might have reintroduced their bill, which they first unveiled in 2007, to ward off actions by Trump. It’s not clear whether he’ll dismantle and replace the program, but a bipartisan plan would have a better chance of passing in Congress.
Much criticism of the H-1B program claims that it allows outsourcing firms to capture most of the alloted visas each year. Research reported in Morning Consult notes that even changing the law will still allow such companies to maintain a hold on the program, and that it may enact little actual change in the industries it affects.
Educating, training and preparing U.S. workers for high-paid tech jobs is one answer to the shortage of highly skilled workers in tech companies and the H-1B outsourcing dilemma.