On March 18, 2013 Senator Grassley introduced the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2013 to the Senate. The Bill, which Senator Grassley believes will reduce visa fraud, would require employers to post available job openings on the Department of Labor Website for 30 days prior to petitioning for an H-1B worker. Amongst other requirements, the Bill would also facilitate the ability of the Department of Labor to conduct random audits and investigations on H-1B visa employers. The fines for violations of the H-1B and L-1 visa programs would increase from $1,000 to $2,000 and $5,000 to $10,000 per violation, for willful misrepresentation and restrict the ability of these companies to participate in future recruiting of H-1B and L-1 employees.
The State Department would also be required to provide a brochure to visa holders explaining the employee’s rights under the nonimmigrant visa programs and a copy of their immigration paperwork and the employer’s obligations under the program. Technically, under the current H-1B and L visa regulations, employers should be providing a copy of the immigration paperwork to the employee, which includes the Labor Condition Application (LCA) for H-1B workers. The LCA outlines the wages and working conditions for the H-1B visa holder.
Senator Grassley’s bill, which will likely make it more difficult for employers to sponsor H-1B and L-1 visas, is designed to ensure Americans will be given top consideration when applying for jobs. The bill seems to overlook the fact that given the costliness and difficulty of employing non U.S. workers under the current program, many employers already refuse to sponsor nonimmigrant visas unless there are exceptional circumstances. In addition, the L-1 visa program is for companies to transfer their managers and employees with specialized knowledge from abroad to the United States, clearly American workers would be unable to fulfill these roles. Another factor to consider with this bill is that it will discourage international students from studying in the U.S. (a significant source of revenue for U.S. universities) because it will make it more difficult for graduates to secure employment in the U.S. after graduation.
The next step is for H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act 2013 to be voted on by the Senate. If the bill passes the Senate, it will then be sent to the House for consideration.