US Lawmakers introduce H-1B visa Act to protect American workers

American lawmakers and Republican Congressmen Mo Brooks, Matt Gaetz, and Lance Gooden have introduced the American Jobs First Act in the House of Representatives. The legislation forbids employers from hiring foreign workers on H-1B visas if they recently have or plan to layoff their US employees. It also mandates employers to pay H-1B workers more than their American counterparts. The act proposes to improve the H-1B visa program by instituting necessary changes in the immigration and Nationality Act. 

The highly sought-after H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa permitting US companies to hire foreign workers in occupations requiring technical or theoretical expertise. Technology companies are highly reliant on the H-1B visa to employ tens of thousands of foreign employees hailing from countries like India and China. 

According to the bill text released on Wednesday, a foreign guest worker cannot be provided H-1B nonimmigrant status in an occupational classification unless the following criteria are fulfilled. The petitioner employer must file an application with the Secretary of Labor stating that they are offering the H-1B non-immigrant an annual wage greater than that of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident employee engaged in identical or similar work two years prior to the petitioner employer filing such an application; or USD 110.

In addition to this, the petitioner employer must file another application with the Secretary of Labor stating that they will not require an H-1B non-immigrant to pay them a fine in case they terminate employment before the stipulated date mutually agreed upon by both parties. 

The bill referred to the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Education and Labor invalidates the F-1 OPT program. This program grants foreign-students extendable work permits and intensifies job market competition among American graduates.  

The bill also brings the diversity visa lottery program to an end. Lawmakers alleged that this program failed to serve US interests as over 50,000 Green Cards were issued to foreigners from around the world, irrespective of their qualifications. With Democrats securing a majority in the House of Representatives, the bill has little chance of being passed. 

Mo Brooks said that the Act “will bring much-needed reform and oversight to the H-1B visa program to ensure that US workers are no longer disadvantaged in their own country. To end the allure of cheap foreign labor, the bill will require employers to pay any H-1B workers a minimum amount of USD 110,000”. 

He further added, ” And to stop American worker replacement, my bill will require companies seeking H-1B labor to not have fired any American workers for at least two years without just cause and commit to not firing any workers without just cause for two years after. 

Commonsense H-1B reform measures like these, alongside ending the unfair Optional Practical Training (OPT) and diversity visa lottery programs, all serve to promote American interests when it comes to immigration”. 

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