Critics: Reintroduced H-1B bill doesn't go far enough

Dive Brief:​

  • Congressman Darrell Issa, R-CA, reintroduced his H-1B legislation on Wednesday, proposing the increase of salary requirements for H-1B positions and the elimination of master's degree exemptions.

  • The legislation focuses on an 18-year-old loophole in the law that allows U.S. workers to be displaced by a visa-holding employee who has a master's degree or is paid at least $60,000. Issa's bill raises the salary threshold to $100,000 a year and eliminates the master's degree exemption.

  • Some opponents, including Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-CA, say the bill would simply encourage companies that use H-1B visas to focus on higher-paying areas where $100,000 would still undercut American wages, USA TODAY reports. Lofgren said the median income in Silicon Valley is $115,000.

Dive Insight:

The Protect and Grow American Jobs Act was originally introduced last summer but ran into opposition in Congress and stalled in committee. The reintroduced legislation is likely the first of many attempts to reform the program this year. 

Issa is trying to generate support for the bill as President-elect Trump prepares to take office. Trump has been critical of the H-1B program and has vowed to revise it. But Issa’s bill is likely not broad enough to garner Trump’s full support, because it still makes it possible for companies to replace U.S. workers with H-1B workers.

Trump will likely be more supportive of legislation that requires companies to recruit American workers first and makes it more difficult to displace Americans with H-1B workers.

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