A group of influential lawmakers has introduced bipartisan legislation in the US Senate to comprehensively overhaul the H1B and L1 Visa Programme and usher in more transparency in recruiting foreign workers. This will reduce fraud and abuse, protect American workers, and ensure that outsourcing companies do not exploit legal loopholes to displace qualified Americans with lower-paid foreign labor.
The bill aims to overhaul the existing H1B and L1 non-immigrant visa programs by ensuring that high-quality American workers are not displaced and that the best STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degree holders from US universities receive priority employment. The legislation also prohibits hiring H1B or L-1 visa holders to replace similarly employed American workers at their work site.
It also provides whistleblower protections to employees who report illegal employer behavior. This will allow these employees to seek redress from the government to protect their immigration status and future wages.
In addition, employers will be required to provide a detailed description of the job they want the H-1B or L-1 visa to work in, including the skill level and qualifications that would help the company hire the worker. This will increase the accountability of employers and make it easier for employees to find jobs with similar qualifications, PTI reported.
The US Department of Labor will be given enhanced investigative authority to act against companies not complying with the regulations. This will include annual audits of a specified percentage of employers, and the agency may impose penalties and fines.
Moreover, the US Secretary of Labor will be able to conduct surveys on employers’ compliance with the H1B and L-1 visa requirements. This will give the Department of Labor more statistical information about the H1B and L-1 visa programs and their effectiveness in reducing fraud and abuse.
Furthermore, the US Senate has passed a bill that will give more power to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Labor in investigating and prosecuting fraud and misrepresentation within the H-1B and L-1 non-immigrant visa programs. Grassley said this would enable the two departments to share information about visa petitions and investigate more effectively.
In the case of ICE, this would mean that investigations could be launched in cases where there is clear evidence of a failure or misrepresentation in filing an H-1B or L-1 visa petition. Grassley said this would reduce the number of visas revoked for fraud and misrepresentation.
Another critical component of the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act is the provision requiring outsourcing companies to prove that they do not displace qualified American workers before and after an H1B or L-1 visa is granted. This will prevent outsourcing companies from importing large numbers of H1B and L-1 visa holders for temporary training only to send them back to their home countries to do the same job again.
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