Four Reasons Why Sen. Grassley’s H-1B Visa Reform Bill Is a Waste of Time

Don Tennant

Last week, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced legislation aimed at eliminating fraud and abuse from the H-1B visa program. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the legislation is far too little, far too late.

Don’t get me wrong. I would be the first person in line to shake Grassley’s hand and thank him for his tireless efforts to raise awareness of the H-1B visa mess, and to at least start the clean-up process. I’m especially appreciative of his support for Jay Palmer, the Infosys employee who blew the whistle on alleged visa and tax fraud at the Indian IT services giant, and who set in motion the U.S. government’s painstaking process of holding Infosys accountable for its actions in this country.

In introducing “The H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2013,” Grassley did a masterful job of identifying the problem:

Somewhere along the line, the H-1B program got side-tracked. The program was never meant to replace qualified American workers, but it was instead intended as a means to fill gaps in highly specialized areas of employment. When times are tough, like they are now, it’s especially important that Americans get every consideration before an employer looks to hire from abroad.

What I take issue with is what Grassley said next:

The legislation will benefit the American worker, while still ensuring that U.S. companies get the specialized workers they need.

This bill will not benefit American workers, because the reality is that the H-1B program is broken beyond repair. I don’t blame Grassley for not yet having arrived at that conclusion, because in my own case, as longtime readers are well aware, I was dragged to that conclusion kicking and screaming the entire way. But all this legislation does is amend some of the language in the existing Immigration and Nationality Act. That’s it. If there was ever a case of putting a Band-aid on a hemorrhaging artery, this is it. American workers will benefit the day the H-1B visa program is abolished, and replaced by a program that is truly mutually beneficial to American workers and to foreign workers who are genuinely qualified, and whose contributions we in this country have every reason to welcome and appreciate.

Here, then, are four reasons why Grassley’s legislation is a colossal waste of time:

  • It doesn’t ensure that H-1B workers will only be hired when no qualified U.S. workers are available. The press release from Grassley’s office translates a lot of obtuse language in the bill as meaning that it “(r)equires all companies to make a good faith effort to hire Americans first.” This appears to be nothing more than a new iteration of those meaningless job-posting requirements, which have proven to make it next to impossible to determine that a genuine good-faith effort to attract U.S. workers was really made.
  • It doesn’t do anything of any significance to prevent violations of the rules. All it does is raise administrative fines from $1,000 to $2,000 per violation, and increase the fine for willful misrepresentation from $5,000 to $10,000. Infosys has $4 billion in cash in the bank. Enough said.
  • It doesn’t ban companies that are found to have engaged in H-1B visa fraud from ever again participating in the H-1B visa program. It should. You can bet a lot of companies would suddenly make a lot fewer “mistakes.”
  • It doesn’t address rampant violations of the B-1 visa program. Palmer’s case for the first time shed light on the widespread illegal activity of placing workers on B-1 business visitor visas in jobs on client sites in the United States. Any legislation that aims to combat visa fraud and abuse must address the B-1.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 26, 2013 1:18 AM Josb4US Josb4US  says:
The title of your article is very disturbing and for people who don't bother to read more than the title, it just adds fuel to the fire. Sure this isn't nirvanna, but its better than the legalized discrimination we have today. This is NOT an academic exercise, thousands of highly skilled Americans have lost our jobs, homes, healthcare and much more as a direct result of the fraud that this bill attempts to fix. Please don't dampen the one hope we have to get back to work. Reply
Mar 26, 2013 2:02 AM George George  says:
L-1 may be an even bigger scam. The bodyshops have been flooding IT departments with hundreds of L-1 "managers" (or L-1a for workers with "specialized knowledge") who are really near entry-level IT support people. They are used to replace diverse IT work forces with wall-to-wall 20-30 year old, racially uniform, low-payed indentured servants. With L-1 there is not even the pretense of comparable wages or any good faith effort to recruit a U.S. worker first. Reply
Mar 27, 2013 1:23 AM Dolores Dolores  says:
http://businesstoday.intoday.in/story/big-boys-of-indian-it-to-guard-against-class-action-suits/1/193260.html Reply
Mar 27, 2013 1:53 PM Wakjob Wakjob  says:
You're right Don - his bill is a waste of time. Instead we need full deportation of all foreign workers who were supposed to go home in 2002 but are still here and who have taken over. Reply
Mar 27, 2013 8:23 PM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says:
Agree, absolutely. We can put lipstick on this pig (which is what all the H-1b legislation is doing) but at the end of the day we are left with a program that is a manipulation of markets, a supressor of worker rights, and that is an insult to our core American values that place freedom above all else. Employer sponsored visas have always and will continue to make people less free. It will continue to place corporate interests above national interests when it comes to immigration. This isn't about lofty goals and inviting people for a new American life where they can exercise freedom. It's about the almighty dollar which is corrupting our nation. Some things are more important that money. This is one of them. Reply
Apr 5, 2013 2:46 PM DaveKc DaveKc  says: in response to George
These L1 program is a feeding line for H1B consulting companies . With blanket L1 approval the L1 companies keep bringing unlimited people and L1 within 2 years change their Jobs to H1s to get few thousand more in their salaries green cards . The H1B consulting companies get fully trained people Their should be a law where in the L1 company should be held responsible for sending their L1 back to their countries once the project is over Reply
May 22, 2013 5:12 PM Dr Patel Dr Patel  says:
Hey to every expert! I am having a question here. Foreign Medical Graduates( foreign doctors) need H1b visa to do residency in US to practice medicine. Salaries or benefits are graded in residency programs not based on experience or qualifications but based on the year of residency program you are in. So how can this reform or any reform can protect American Doctors( a large portion of US citizens go to Caribbeans to get MD) from the massive attacks of foreign doctors? High debt and unnecessary competition is not healthy for future doctors of USA. Thank you. Reply

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