Senate bill would lower H-1B cap

11 Dec 15

UNITED STATES

A bill has been introduced in the Senate that would reduce the annual number of H-1B visas by 15,000 and require allocation of visas based on the intended H-1B worker’s wages.

The “Protecting American Jobs Act,” S. 2365, would lower the H-1B annual cap to 50,000 from the current limit of 65,000. The bill would not amend the current allocation of 20,000 additional H-1B visas to individuals with advanced degrees from U.S. universities.

Under the proposed bill, if the number of H-1B petitions filed exceeds the numerical cap, the Department of Homeland Security would be required to allocate the 50,000 visas to workers who will earn the highest wages. This new allocation requirement would also apply to the 20,000 visas available to advanced degree holders if the number of petitions exceeds the cap.

The bill is cosponsored by Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). Nelson said that the proposed bill “directly targets outsourcing companies that rely on lower-wage foreign workers to replace equally qualified U.S. workers.” The two senators also co-sponsored a bill in November that would impose new obligations on employers of H-1B and L-1 workers and create additional enforcement mechanisms for DHS and the Department of Labor.

BAL Analysis: This proposed legislation would limit employers’ overall access to H-1B visas by lowering the cap and would alter the selection process by DHS. Though the bill is unlikely to move on its own, BAL will be working with clients to monitor and influence policy discussions. Please reach out to your BAL attorney if you have any questions regarding this legislation and how it would affect your business.

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