Congressman Darrell Issa recently introduced a new bill that would dramatically increase the minimum salary for any foreign worker on an H1B visa. While this is one of several H1B visa reform bills being considered, Issa has recently made the claim that President Trump specifically supports this bill, the first time that any comment has been made about where the new administration may be focused on changing the H1B visa program.
Not surprisingly, it targets the business model of outsourcing firms, by preventing petitions for H1B visas that are primarily for lower wage contract positions. This corresponds to Trump’s longstanding complaint that the H1B visa program is being used to replace US workers with cheaper foreign labor.
The Bill in Question
According to Issa’s website, the legislation would help close a loophole in the H1B visa program being used by companies to bring in cheaper foreign labor from abroad. That ‘loophole’ is the minimum wage where a company must show the position was advertised and offered to qualified Americans before any foreign worker.
The new bill would raise the salary requirement for the positions to $100,000/year (up from $60,000/year currently). By raising the salary to a level more in-line with the average American salary for these positions, it would help reduce abuse and ensure these positions remain available for companies who truly need them.
It would also curb misuse by eliminating the Master’s degree exemption to showing the job was offered to US workers, which has become another means of obtaining a visa, as foreign workers seeking H1B Visas have used questionable degree certificates to avail of the exemption.
Congressman Issa’s Commentary
In the course of a speech given to a business group Congressman Issa made the following comments that underscore how he sees the H1B visa program in its current form:
He alleged that Indian companies have “gamed the system” and made the “best use of this flawed immigration system”. “You can’t have 75 per cent of a program going to an Indian-owner, Indian operated, Indian employee visas and not say that this is distortion,” Issa said, adding it’s common sense to hire the best and not the other way around.
He went on to say that increasing the minimum salary would raise the quality of worker coming into the US, and that “an auction system is not a bad way to go.” Apparently, he means that H1B visas would be awarded to sponsors that offer the highest salary, and that the current average H1B salary of $60-65,000 would not even be accepted by a recent college graduate in the US in a field of technical specialization.
He does not understand why India would be concerned about a change to the H1B visa program that would only benefit Indian workers (raising their wages). The answer of course is that this bill if passed, would undermine the business model of outsourcing companies, and reduce their participation dramatically.
These statements follow on the heels of a number of anti-H1B comments and rhetoric leading up the April 3 deadline for submitting this year’s petitions. It is conceivable that the way is being paved for executive action that somehow affects the way that this year’s petitions are categorized and selected by the USCIS prior to the lottery. Only so much can be done administratively, but this is one possibility since a change in laws for this year cannot happen before April 3.
- March 30th, 2017