The Protect and Grow American Jobs Act (H.R. 170) aims to reform H-1B Dependency Regulations and the Exemptions Regarding Recruitment Attestations
On November 15, 2017, the House Judiciary Committee approved bi-partisan legislation that aims to make it more difficult for H-1B dependent employers to petition for highly-skilled workers through the H-1B visa program. More specifically, the Protect and Grow American Jobs Act (H.R. 170) seeks to protect American workers by altering the recruitment exemptions for H-1B dependent companies.
Currently, H-1B dependent employers must make an effort to recruit American workers before petitioning for an H-1B worker, unless they meet certain exceptions, such as:
- The Beneficiary will be paid an annual salary of at least $60,000; or
- The Beneficiary has obtained a Master’s degree in a field required by the Specialty Occupation.
As per current H-1B dependency regulations, if an H-1B dependent employer does not meet either of the above-listed criteria, they must make attestations regarding their recruitment efforts for American workers and must refrain from laying-off an American worker in the immediate 90 days following the filing of an H-1B petition.
The Protect and Grow American Jobs Act, if made law, will reform H-1B dependency regulations by raising the $60,000 wage requirement to $90,000 and by changing the 90-day “no lay-off” requirement to an indefinite period, wherein which an H-1B dependent employer may not lay-off any equivalent American worker as long as the H-1B dependent company is employing similar H-1B workers. The Protect and Grow American Jobs Act may also eliminate the Master’s degree recruitment exemption that is currently in place, leaving only one exemption criterion.
Furthermore, if made law, the act will also “strengthen the Department of Labor’s enforcement arsenal to ensure that H-1B dependent employers abide by the rules.”
It is important to note that the bill, if passed, will only impact H-1B dependent employers. Companies are currently considered H-1B dependent if they have:
- 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees, of which at least 8 are H-1B non-immigrant workers;
- 26 – 50 full-time equivalent employees, of which at least 13 are H-1B non-immigrant workers; or
- 51 or more full-time equivalent employees, of which 15% or more are H-1B non-immigrant workers.
Over the last few months, the Trump Administration has promised to limit the use of the H-1B visa program, as well as look into potential abuse of the program by H-1B dependent companies. The Protect and Grow American Jobs Act seems to be one of the first significant attempts to reform the H-1B visa program though legislation.
In order to become law, the bill will need to be passed in the House of Representatives, as well as in Senate Committee and on the Senate floor.
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