November 20, 2009
In a New York Times op-ed, Thomas Friedman, wrote that America should remember how it became the wealthiest country in history. He says it was not through fearing free trade, state owned banks or protectionism. It was through a flexible open market, adding to it, the most diverse highly intelligent immigrants from all over the world. Something H1-B visa attorneys have experience with.
Some of our legislators have forgotten the principles that lead to our success. A clear example is a new anti H-1B & H-2B proposed legislation introduced this month by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) dubbed as “Employ American Act,” which in fact has nothing to do with employing Americans. It basically mandates that if a company lays off more than 50 workers in any area, the company cannot hire any foreign workers for one year and all company foreign workers on visas approved in the preceding 12 months shall be cancelled. The bill also precludes judicial review for any visa cancellation.
This has to top the list of most irresponsible legislation introduced in 2009. To highlight the hasty nature of the introduced legislation, let’s consider an example. If this legislation to become law, the practical effect is as follows: If, let’s say, Ford lays off workers in a plant in Detroit Michigan, this legislation would prevent Ford form hiring on H-1 B a foreign scientists in its Columbus, Ohio research facility that is working on designing a more efficient engine to compete with its foreign competitors. It further will automatically cancel all recently approved H-1B visas for its entire foreign scientists anywhere in the US. This legislation servers no purpose except to harass companies that hire foreign nationals on H-1B visa. The practical impact of this legislation is that hiring foreign nationals becomes a liability to US corporations.
Sen. Grassley said with the current high unemployment rates (over 10%), companies should give preference to American workers when recruiting. But what he does not say, is that H-1B visas fill job vacancies in high tech areas where American workers are unavailable. It serves no purpose to force companies to cancel visas on difficult to fill positions because it had layoffs in completely unrelated job classifications in a completely different part of the country. This legislation is better dubbed as “Kill American Competiveness ACT”
This year Sen Grassley, along with Sen.Durbin also introduced the H1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2009, which set more restrictions on H-1B visa. Legislation is aimed at Indian outsourcing firms. The act prohibits any company with more than 50 employees from having more than half of their workforce on H1B or L-1 visas. The legislation included some anti-fraud provisions and proposed higher salary for visa holder.
All such restrictive legislation will only encourage off shoring of jobs and further negatively impact our economy. companies would be forced to set their research facilities or at least portions of it outside the US resulting in net loss of jobs in the US. It is that simple, if companies can’t hire skilled workers, they will go to other countries.