Raja Krishnamoorthi Introduces Bill to Grant H-1B Holders Flexibility to Change JobsTop Stories

September 15, 2018 07:00
Raja Krishnamoorthi Introduces Bill to Grant H-1B Holders Flexibility to Change Jobs

(Image source from: Deccan Chronicle)

Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Indian-American Congressman has introduced a legislation in the House of Representatives which gives flexibility to H-1B workers to reduce Green Card backlog and by expanding education-based exemptions from per-country caps for H-1B holders.

Krishnamoorthi was joined by Republican lawmaker Mike Coffman in introducing H R 6794, the 'Immigration Innovation Act of 2018' in the House of Representatives Thursday.

If passed by the Congress and signed into law by the President, the two lawmakers said it would reform and streamline the H-1B high-skilled worker visa programme while increasing investment in American Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education for students in K-12, post-secondary, or college programmes.

"To develop the skills of our domestic workforce, our bill increases investments in our education system to guarantee that American workers are trained for high-tech jobs. It also reforms the visa system for highly-skilled workers which allows American businesses to compete in the global economy," said Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat Congressman.

"Our immigration policies must fit with the economic needs of our country," Coffman said. "One critical part of Congress' job is ensuring that immigration laws match our country's high-tech workforce requirements as well as meet the needs of H1-B visa applicants and their families."

Related content: Prevent Jobs from Going to H-1B Holders: USCIS Director

The legislation also proposes to ban employers from hiring H-1B holders to replace American workers while growing to fund for STEM education at the K-12, post-secondary, and university levels.

Under the bill, fees gathered for H-1B visas and conditional Green Cards will go to state-administered funds to advance domestic STEM education and worker training, counting financial assistance and research initiatives.

These expanded investments in advanced training for the domestic workforce would finally cut down demand for foreign workers while helping the American economy grow, the two lawmakers said.

Among other, the bill removes existing annual exemption cap on H-1B visas for holders of the U.S. master's degrees or higher, which is presently exempting 20,000 yearly, for individuals who are sponsored for a Green Card; to those with the U.S. Doctor of Philosophy (PhDs) narrows education-based cap exemption.

It creates lottery prioritization for cap-subject petitions in the order of: U.S. masters or higher, foreign PhDs, and U.S. STEM bachelor's degrees and establishes a grace period to allow H-1B visa holders to change jobs without losing their legal status to let mobility under qualifying circumstances.

The bill subjects employers who have more than five H-1B employees to a penalty for each employee who worked below 25 percent of the first work-authorization year and forbid employers from hiring an H-1B visa worker to replace a U.S. worker. It likewise renders work authorization for spouses and dependent children of H-1B visa workers at the prevailing wage.

It proposes to obviate per-country limit for employment-based green cards and for family-based green cards adjusts per-country caps, and enables reassignment of fresh visas from earlier years.

The bill exempts spouses and children of employment-based green card holders, holders of U.S. STEM master's degrees or higher, and individuals with extraordinary skill in arts and sciences from caps.

It creates new conditional Green Card category to let U.S. employers to sponsor university-educated foreign professionals through a separate path from H–1B. It also requires employers to attest that no U.S. worker has been displaced for the Green Card holder, undertake recruitment efforts to fill the position with a U.S. worker and offer prevailing wage not less than USD 100,000 per year.

By Sowmya Sangam

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Raja Krishnamoorthi  H-1B visa  STEM