On November 15, 2017, the Protect and Grow American Jobs Act passed the House Judiciary Committee. Proposed by Republicans in Congress, the legislation was approved with bipartisan support. The H-1B legislation would directly impact H-1B visa-dependent companies and companies that provide worksites for their H-1B-holding employees. Right now, visa-dependent companies are defined as those with 15 percent or more of their workforce made up of H-1B visa holders. Under this bill, the definition would shift to include only companies with 20 percent or more of their workforce made up of H-1B holders.
What changes could result from the proposed H-1B legislation?
The proposed changes to current policy under the Protect and Grow American Jobs Act would include changes in minimum salary offered to H-1B workers, stricter reporting requirements, increases in required audits of H-1B visa-dependent companies, an additional fee and more if the bill actually passes both the House and Senate.
Here are some of the changes that this bill could bring about:
- Minimum salary for H-1B visa holders would jump from $60,000 to $90,000
- Companies would have to send reports to the Department of Labor (DOL) on recruiting done in the U.S.
- The DOL could conduct up to five annual random investigations at any of these companies, and DOL would be required to investigate 5 percent of H-1B visa-dependent companies every year
- Visa-dependent companies would be barred from replacing American employees with H-1B employees
- An additional $495 fee would need to be paid when filing each H-1B petition
- Companies could be found non-compliant if an H-1B-holding employee works at a third-party worksite that displaces an American worker to bring in the new employee
While it may not become a law, legislators say this bill is intended to curtail abuse of the H-1B visa and is not intended to punish compliant companies that don’t rely on the H-1B visa.
“Highly skilled individuals that come to America through the H-1B visa program add tremendous value to the U.S. economy,” said Subcommittee Chairman Issa, who introduced the bill in January. He added that some companies – those that would be the object of this H-1B legislation – have taken advantage of the system to outsource American work. That, in turn, has worked to “crowd out employers tho need the limited slots available to bring in the best and brightest individuals from around the world.”
The momentum of the Protect and Grow American Jobs Act marks a shift in the H-1B visa program, something the current administration and lawmakers have been discussing publicly for some time. It’s unclear whether this bill will be enacted into law in its current form, or at all, due to the complicated and bureaucratic processes in the House and Senate. However, for now, it marks a step toward protecting American jobs and curtailing abuse of the H-1B visa, one of the most popular American work visas.