New H-1B visa bill to set wage floor, end OPT

Photo credit: Feras Ismail, American Bazaar

‘Big Tech giving the most lucrative and valuable career opportunities to foreigners,’ alleges Republican Jim Banks.

A new bill has been introduced in the US House of Representatives to reform the H-1B visa program to stop what critics say big tech companies from using it to undercut the wages of American tech workers.

Introduced by Rep. Jim Banks, head of the Republican Study Committee, the “American Tech Workforce Act of 2021,” would set a wage floor for H-1B visa recipients equal to that being paid to American workers currently in the position, or $110,000 — whichever is higher.

Aimed to bring “accountability of big tech companies,” it would also give priority to employers offering higher wages to incentivize companies to offer higher wages in order to secure the limited visa spots.

RELATED: H-1B visa updates

Separately, it would also end the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which allows foreign nationals on student visas to work in the US for up to three years if they have certain qualifications in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.

This critics says has given another path to companies to hire cheaper foreign workers over their American counterparts.

Finally, the legislation would also limit the ability of companies to partner with third-party companies to fill H-1B visa spots by reducing the sponsorship period from three years to just one year.

Currently more than two thirds of the 85,000 H-1B visas issued to high skilled workers in speciality occupations go to Indian professionals.

“Big Tech is setting aside some of the most lucrative and valuable career opportunities in America, and giving them exclusively to foreign guest workers,” Banks said in a statement.

READ: Unless Congress acts, fewer Indian students will come to America (August 25, 2021)

“They’re cutting Americans out to save a few bucks. It’s domestic outsourcing. This shocking disregard for American workers and their role in our nation’s future is unpatriotic. We must fix Big Tech’s incentives so they begin putting Americans first.”

Th bill is the latest effort to crack down on alleged abuse in the program. Previously the Trump administration published rules that would change the methodology of the “prevailing wage” and the definition of “specialty occupation” but they never went into effect.

The Banks bill has picked up the support of groups that are hawkish on immigration, including the American Principles Project (APP), the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and NumbersUSA.

The bill comes as immigration provisions are being debated in the Capitol as part of the Build Back Better Act (BBA). These include measures to recapture “unused” green cards from prior years and provisions to grant legal protections to millions of illegal immigrants.

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