Legislation to Reform the H-1B Visa Program Introduced by Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Grassley (R-IA)

On Thursday, April 23, 2009, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin and Senator Chuck Grassley introduced the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act. This bipartisan legislation would reform the current H-1B and L-1 guest worker programs to prevent abuse and fraud, and to protect American workers.

This legislation calls for a “good faith attempt” to solicit qualified American workers before hiring an H-1B guest worker. Accordingly, Employers would be prohibited from using H-1B visa holders to displace qualified American workers. Additionally, the bill calls for a prohibition against the blatantly discriminatory practice of “H-1B only” ads and would prohibit Employers from hiring additional guest workers if more than 50% of their workforce consisted of H-1B and L-1 visa holders.

To address the issues of fraud and abuse, the bill would allow the Department of Labor (DOL) to initiate investigations without a complaint and without the personal authorization of the DOL Secretary. In addition, the bill would allow the DOL to conduct random audits of companies that utilize the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program. Specifically, the bill calls for annual audits by the DOL for employers who employ a large number of guest-workers.

Senators Durbin and Grassley introduced similar legislation last Congress.

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