Sen. Chuck Grassley
Sen. Chuck Grassley

Updated:  

Senator Chuck Grassley, along with Sen. Dick Durbin, introduced legislation to reform the H-1B and L visa programs. The U.S. issues 65,000 H-1B visas annually to high-skilled foreign workers in fields where there is a worker shortage. L-1 visas are issued to employees of foreign companies and allows them to work in the United States for three years. Both programs have come under fire for claims of fraud.

The legislation makes reforms to increase enforcement, modify wage requirements, and ensure protection for visa holders and American workers. The bill does not eliminate the program or change the numerical cap of visas available to petitioning employers.

"The H-1B program was never meant to replace qualified American workers. It was meant to complement them because of a shortage of workers in specialized fields. In tough economic times like we're seeing, it's even more important that we do everything possible to see that Americans are given every consideration when applying for jobs. If there aren't qualified Americans, companies can use the legal immigration programs we have available, but we must return the H-1B and L visa programs back to their original intent," Sen. Grassley said in a released statement.

The Durbin-Grassley bill would, among other things:
  • Require all employers who want to hire an H-1B guest-worker to first make a good-faith attempt to recruit a qualified American worker. Employers would be prohibited from using H-1B visa holders to displace qualified American workers.
  • Prohibit the blatantly discriminatory practice of "H-1B only" ads and prohibit employers from hiring additional H-1B and L-1 guest-workers if more than 50 percent of their employees are H-1B and L-1 visa holders.
  • Permit the Department of Labor to initiate investigations without a complaint and without the Labor Secretary's personal authorization;
  • Authorize the Department of Labor to review H-1B applications for fraud;
  • Allow the Department of Labor to conduct random audits of any company that uses the H-1B visa program;
  • Require the Department of Labor to conduct annual audits of companies who employ large numbers of H-1B workers.
  • Provide safeguards for visa holders so they know their rights under the law. This would include wage rates and access to benefits.
  • Establish a process to investigate, audit and penalize L-1 visa abuses.
For more information, see Sen. Grassley's press release.
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