US Lawmaker says H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act Won’t Pass

An article published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) claims a leading US lawmaker admitted that the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2016 has ‘very little chance of passing in the near future.’

The comments were allegedly made by US Congressman for New Jersey, Bill Pascrell Jr, during a phone-based press conference on July 18, 2016, about the Reform Act that he introduced in the House of Representatives on July 8.

Rather than stating that the Bill had a chance of passing, Pascrell Jr said: “We’re trying to ‘build momentum’ and raise awareness of the need to reform these high-skill guest worker visa programs. The Bill has been introduced now because the issue needs attention and is not included in the Democratic Party’s platform.”

Sanwar Ali, Editor of workpermit.com News has the following to say:

Some politicians are unfairly criticising the L-1 and H-1B visa programs.   It is difficult and expensive obtaining these visas.  For the H-1B visa program there is a quota of 85,000; not much for a large Country such as the US.   It therefore seems unlikely that there will be large numbers of low paid workers under these particular visa programs.   In fact the evidence suggests that in the vast majority of cases H-1B and L-1 visa workers are highly paid.

H-1B visa program designed to fill skills gaps

Pascrell Jr, a Democrat, claims that there is ‘clear evidence’ of the L-1 and H-1B visa programs failing. He is especially critical of the H-1B program, which he says was ‘designed to tackle skills gaps and bring exceptionally talented foreign workers to the US.’ He claims that the program is widely abused by companies.

As a result, the H-1B visa program is effectively allowing guest workers to replace American workers, according to Pascrell Jr. He said: “The H-1B was never meant to replace Americans in jobs they have the skills to do.”

Scenarios whereby American workers have been forced to train their ‘replacements’ have been widely publicised, with businesses based in Silicon Valley  facing criticism.  However, this criticism is somewhat one sided. Companies that have brought in H-1B visa workers have in many cases also created jobs for Americans and invested heavily in the US.

Discussions about H-1B Visa Program

Labor economist, Hal Salzman of Rutgers University, based in Brunswick, New Jersey said: “There is no credible evidence to support the false premises of the H-1B program - that there is a shortage of STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] workers.”

Salzman, who participated in the phone-based press conference on July 18, added: “We have a very large vigorous university system that is graduating people who are qualified, and the visas constitute a wholesale replacement program.”

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation takes a different view in the report  "Debunking the Top Ten Arguments Against High-Skilled Immigration" BY ADAMS B. NAGER AND ROBERT D. ATKINSON in APRIL 2015

...Why is it progressive to raise their incomes by restricting the supply of STEM workers, when the result would be fewer jobs in the rest of the economy, higher prices for American consumers of all incomes, and reduced U.S. global competitiveness? Indeed, limiting the supply of STEM professionals in the United States will raise prices for consumers, reduce the output of U.S. firms in globally traded sectors (like manufacturing and software), and cost the jobs of tens of thousands of Americans who work alongside engineers and IT professionals. ..

Ron Hira, labor expert at Howard University in Washington D.C. and also a participant in the press conference said: “The H-1B and L-1 visa programs have spiralled out of control. “Congress and multiple administrations have basically created a very lucrative, profitable business model. That model is based on undercutting a key sector of our workforce.”

A statement released by Pascrell’s office about the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2016, which is co-sponsored by Republican Congressman for California, Dana Rohrabacher, said the bill would:

“Require employers to make a good faith effort to recruit and hire American workers before bringing in visa workers and prohibit employers from replacing American workers or giving preference to visa holders when they are filling open positions.

Prohibit companies from hiring H-1B employees if they employ more than 50 people and more than 50% of their employees are H-1B and L-1 visa holders.

Provide more authority to the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor to investigate fraud and abuse in the H-1B and L-1 programs.

Modify existing H-1B wage requirements, and establish wage requirements for L-1 workers.

Provide visa holders with a list of rights before they enter the US so that they are better protected against mistreatment or underpayment of wages.”

[Source: AAAT]

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