Rep. Jim Banks, the head of the Republican Study Committee, is introducing a bill to reform the H-1B visa program to stop Big Tech’s use of the visa to undercut the wages of American tech workers.
The “American Tech Workforce Act of 2021,” which currently has eleven cosponsors, would set a wage floor for H-1B visa holders at $110,000 or equal to that being paid to Americans presently working in that field and give priority for H-1B visas to employers who offer higher wages.
Additionally, the bill would end another path for companies to hire cheaper foreign labor, the Optional Practical Training program. OPT allows foreign nationals on student visas to remain in the U.S. for up to three years if they meet specific STEM qualifications. “Finally, the legislation would also limit the ability of companies to partner with third-party companies to fill H-1B visa spots,” Fox News reports.
Proponents of H-1B and OPT often represent the programs as an effective way to ‘fill gaps’ in the labor market. But, in reality, such programs offer little more than opportunities to unscrupulous employers, particularly within Big Tech, to import cheaper foreign workers to replace their more expensive American counterparts.
Rep Jim Banks, the bill’s author, said in a statement:
Big Tech is setting aside some of the most lucrative and valuable career opportunities in America, and giving them exclusively to foreign guest workers. They’re cutting Americans out to save a few bucks. It’s domestic outsourcing. This shocking disregard for American workers and their role in our nation’s future is unpatriotic. We must fix Big Tech’s incentives so they begin putting Americans first. [emphasis added]
Every year, companies are allowed to bring in up to 85,000 workers under the H-1B program, predominantly from India and China. The “American Tech Workforce Act of 2021” is an encouraging sign from Congressional Republicans that not only are they concerned about the question of illegal immigration but also the impact of legal immigration and its effects on American workers.
Rosemary Jenks, Director of Government Relations for Numbers USA, said:
[The bill] would help ensure that Big Tech companies can no longer use the H-1B program as a cheaper alternative to hiring American workers, which would also protect foreign workers who are too often exploited by unscrupulous employers. This bill is an opportunity for all Representatives to make clear that they stand with American workers.
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Updated: Mon, Dec 27th 2021 @ 4:40pm EST