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    US Senate introduces law to overhaul H-1B visa system; what it means

    US Senate introduces law to overhaul H-1B visa system; what it means

    US Senate introduces law to overhaul H-1B visa system; what it means
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    By CNBCTV18.com  IST (Published)

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    Under the new H-1B visa legislation, American workers cannot be replaced by foreign labour just for cost-cutting measures. Also, students educated in the US and possessing a STEM degree will be given priority for the visa.

    The US Senate saw yet another potential legislation to overhaul the existing visa system aimed at safeguarding interests of the Americans. The new partisan Bill was introduced by several influential and powerful senators in the US body.

    H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act will bring about several reforms for changing the visa system in the US. The H-1B visa, the most sought after, is used by highly skilled professionals to work in the US, while the L-1 visa allows temporary relocations to the US for work.

    The Bill was introduced by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and co-sponsored by senators Richard Blumenthal, Tommy Tuberville, Sherrod Brown, Bill Hagerty, and Bernie Sanders.

    Under the proposed overhaul, the H-1B visa will finally employ a priority system instead of relying completely on a lottery system. Students educated in the United States and possessing a STEM degree will be given priority for the visa. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

    More importantly, for many Indians and Indian companies working in the US, the law would seek to prevent the replacement of US workers by exploiting foreign labour.

    “Congress created the H-1B and L-1 visa programs to complement America’s high-skilled workforce, not replace it. Unfortunately, some companies are trying to exploit the programs by cutting American workers for cheaper labor (sic). We need programs dedicated to putting American workers first,” said Senator Grassley.

    “Our bill takes steps to ensure that the programs work for Americans and skilled foreign workers alike,” Senator Grassley added.

    The Bill prohibits the replacement of American workers by H-1B or L-1 visa holders. At the same time, it seeks to improve the working conditions of American workers in companies where H-1B and L-1 visa holders have been hired. In particular, the Bill would also prohibit companies with more than 50 employees, where half of them are H-1B or L-1 holders, from hiring additional H-1B employees. L-1 visa workers will have a wage floor established while also giving the US Department of Homeland Security the right to investigate, audit, and enforce compliance with L-1 visa programmes.

    “Reforming the H-1B and L-1 visa programs is a critical component to fixing America’s broken immigration system. For years, outsourcing companies have used legal loopholes to displace qualified American workers, exploit foreign workers, and facilitate the outsourcing of American jobs. Our legislation would fix these broken programs, protect workers, and put an end to these abuses,” Senator Durbin said.

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