A draft bill would give companies that pay more a better chance of getting H-1B visas, according to a CIO report.
The so-called "High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2015" draft bill was authored by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. Lofgren has not yet introduced the legislation.
The bill would minimize the importance of the lottery system currently used to award H-1B visas, but wouldn’t eliminate it altogether.
The legislation would reportedly propose a four-tier wage system, which would account for pay differences by region and skill, with the intention to raise wages for H-1B visa holders overall. The proposal would encourage employers to pay on average 150% or 200% of the prevailing wage level. Other factors beyond salary would also factor into whether a company gets priority in the visa distribution, however. First in line: companies that hire primarily U.S. workers, followed by employers dependent on H-1B visas.
The bill would also eliminate per-country caps on green cards for advanced degree holders. The measure is currently being distributed to stakeholders for reaction.
This year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that handles H1-B requests, received more than 85,000 petitions—equivalent to a full year’s supply—in just five days. It was the fourth year in a row that requests outnumbered supply in less than a week. In total, 236,000 H-1B visa petitions were submitted this year.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Lofgren have criticized H-1B wage rates, stressing that the original goal of the program was not to replace American workers with cheap overseas labor. They believe raising the salaries will prevent U.S. companies from using the program in that manner.
The H-1B issue has been the subject of much controversy and several pieces of legislation over the past six months, so it’s unclear which legislation, if any, will move forward. The program could change in the future, which would eventually mean companies that use the program would have to adjust.