WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) introduced new legislation today to curb H-1B visa outsourcing abuse and to start the overhaul of a broken high-skilled immigration program.
The High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017 would curtail abuse of the program which has allowed replacement of American workers by outsourcing companies with cheaper H-1B workers. In several recent incidences, high-profile U.S. employers including Disney, Southern California Edison, and most recently the University of California San Francisco, have made news in this manner.
“My legislation refocuses the H-1B program to its original intent – to seek out and find the best and brightest from around the world, and to supplement the U.S. workforce with talented, highly-paid, and highly-skilled workers who help create jobs here in America, not replace them,” said Lofgren. “It offers a market-based solution that gives priority to those companies willing to pay the most. This ensures American employers have access to the talent they need, while removing incentives for companies to undercut American wages and outsource jobs.”
The High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017 prioritizes market based allocation of visas to those companies willing to pay 200% of a wage calculated by survey, eliminates the category of lowest pay, and raises the salary level at which H-1B dependent employer are exempt from nondisplacement and recruitment attestation requirements to greater than $130,000.
The bill mirrors an approach to curbing H-1B outsourcing abuse reportedly favored by Trump Administration officials.
Among other reforms, the High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act 0f 2017:
Increases prevailing wage requirements to protect U.S. workers by replacing the current 4-level wage calculation with a new, more balanced, geographically based 3-level formula which eliminates the lowest wage level and puts upward pressure on the wages in the remaining levels.
Level 1 = mean of bottom 2/3 of wages surveyed
Level 2 = mean of all wages surveyed
Level 3 = mean of top 2/3 of wages surveyed
Prioritizes market-based allocation of H-1B visas as follows:
1) Employers paying 200% of level 3 prevailing wage, then 150% of level 3
2) Employers paying 200% of level 2 prevailing wage, then 150% of level 2
3) Employers paying 200% of level 1 prevailing wage, them 150% of level 1
Removes the ‘per country’ cap for employment based immigrant visas so that all workers are treated more fairly and to move to a system where employers hire the most skilled workers without regard to national origin.
Raises the salary level at which H-1B dependent employer are exempt from attestation requirements to a new required wage level of 35 percentile points above the median national annual wage for Computer and Mathematical Occupations published by the Department of Labor Occupational Employment Statistics (roughly $132,000), which would be adjusted in the future without the need for new legislation, and eliminates the Master’s Degree exemption for dependent employers.
Sets aside 20% of the annually allocated H-1B visas for small and start-up employers (50 or fewer employers) to ensure small businesses have an opportunity to compete for high-skilled workers, while still protecting against outsourcing.
Removes visa hurdles for students and other temporary visa holders by building a bridge from F-1 student status to Lawful Permanent Residence.
Removes paperwork burdens by streamlining H-1B filing requirements and reducing administrative costs.