The H-1B and L-1 Visas
For decades, the H-1B and L-1 visas have provided foreign laborers with the legal documents necessary to enter and work in the US. Under the H-1B, skilled individuals in specialty occupations that require expertise, either theoretically or technically, can accept job offers from approved employers. The L-1 visa provides employees of international companies the right to transfer to a location in America.
Employers rely on these visas to fill tens of thousands of vacancies every year, particularly in tech and healthcare sectors. But the system has come under scrutiny lately because of documented fraud and abuse cases.
Because of the sensitive nature of the immigration system, there is a lot of temptation for abuse. People want to have their loved ones or the top talent near them, but they have to trust in a complicated and often short-handed system for this to happen. Instead, some companies resort to fraud and abuse of the system, which creates a domino effect of damage.
The Bipartisan Legislation That Could Change It All
The US government recognizes this problem and has consistently taken small steps to reduce the prevalence of fraud, including more thorough background checks and implementing biometric requirements. Yet, two senators want more done, and they’ve presented a bill that they believe can fix things.
Dick Durbin and Chuck Grassley are both influential in the US Senate. They’re backed by co-sponsoring senators Richard Blumenthal, Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, and Tommy Tuberville.
If their legislation passes, the new H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act will revamp the immigration system. The act stipulates changes to reduce fraud and abuse and protect American workers and legal visa holders. The aim is to ensure transparency in how skilled foreign labor is recruited.
The new requirements will add stricter requirements on employers regarding wages, recruitments, and attestations. Should a business request permission to hire a foreign worker under an L-1 or H-1B visa, they must post the jobs first on the Department of Labor website. Labor Condition Applications are required, but where they were once free to submit, DOL will have the authority to institute a fee. The funds from those fees will pay for more employees to increase the thoroughness of scrutinizing applications.
The act also proposes adjusting the lottery system, prioritizing workers with STEM degrees, and changing the definition of “specialty occupation” to make a bachelor’s degree or higher mandatory.
Closing the Legal Loopholes
In the past, companies have outsourced cheaper labor through legal loopholes. This abuse has displaced American workers looking for jobs and caused the whole system to come under fire. Understandably, some Americans view the H-1B and L-1 visas as harmful to the US economy and the working conditions of American citizens, but this is due to those who abuse the system, not the system itself.
The new act aims to fix the broken system, add protections for workers, and stop those who would abuse the visa programs. When implemented correctly, bringing in skilled foreign labor is beneficial to the whole country.
You want to become part of the US workforce or bring in foreign workers, but you want to ensure that you do it the right way. The legal immigration system is complicated, especially now, as proponents of reform continue to fight to change legislation. At Visa2US, we stay on top of the new laws, so you don’t have to.
If an H-1B is part of your near future, contact our professionals at Visa2US to see how we can help streamline the process.