Senators Grassley (R-IA) and Durbin (D-IL) introduced the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act (S. 887) in the current session of Congress. This proposal is targeted at closing perceived loopholes in the H-1B (specialty Worker) and L-1 (Intracompany Transferee) nonimmigrant visa categories.

Among the features of this legislation are:

  • a requirement that all employers who want to hire an H-1B worker first make a good-faith attempt to recruit a qualified American worker. Employers would be prohibited from using H-1B visa holders to displace qualified American workers; and
  • a prohibition against advertising “H-1B only” ads and a prohibition against the hiring of additional H-1B and L-1 professionals if more than 50% of the entity’s employees are H-1B and L-1 visa holders.

The bill would give the government more authority to conduct employer investigations and streamline the investigative process and would:

 

  • permit the Department of Labor (DOL) to initiate investigations without a complaint;
  • authorize the DOL to review H-1B applications for fraud;
  • allow the DOL to conduct random audits of any company that uses the H-1B program; and
  • require the DOL to conduct annual audits of companies that employ large numbers of H-1B workers.

As for reforming the L-1 transferee visa category, the bill would establish for the first time a process to investigate, audit and penalize L-1 visa abuses.

This bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. It is not clear at this time whether this bill will gain traction or will serve as a bargaining chip in possible comprehensive immigration reform. In the recent past, stand-alone immigration legislation has failed to gain much support in Congress. In fact, Senators Durbin and Grassley introduced a similar bill in the last Congress.