Bill to Protect and Grow American Jobs Will Only Do the Opposite

July 19th, 2016

A bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives to amend the exemption requirements for H-1B dependent employers.  However, legislation, ironically entitled, H.R. 5801, “Protect and Grow American Jobs Act, will only hinder the growth of US companies and the creation of jobs for US workers.  The bill proposes to amend the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (ACWIA) of 1998, which created additional requirements for “H-1B dependent employers.”  H-1B dependent employers are those that employ a certain percentage of H-1B workers.  For such employers, they must engage in recruitment and make attestations promising to not displace US workers.  However, they are exempt from such requirements if they can show that the H-1B employee will earn an annual salary of at least $60,000 or that the employee holds at least a master’s degree or greater.

H.R. 5801 Protect and Grow American Jobs Act revises these ACWIA exemptions for H-1B dependent employers by raising the wage exemption from $60,000 to $100,000 and requiring salary increases for inflation every three years.  The bill also proposes to eliminate the exemption for those with a master’s degree.

The H-1B visa has been unfairly denigrated and censured for its robbing of jobs for US workers.  Rather, the H-1B visa allows US employers to hire foreign workers that it cannot find in the US market.  It should be emphasized that this is a high-level visa status for only professional positions requiring at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field and that the beneficiary must hold such a bachelor’s degree, or the US foreign academic equivalent.  In certain fields such as engineering, science and information technology, it can be a daunting task for a US company to find sufficient US workers with such qualifications to grow its business.  By increasing the salary exemption requirements, this will only prevent smaller and start-up companies from hiring the workers it needs to expand or even remain viable.

If we want to truly grow American jobs, then we need to eliminate the additional requirements for H-1B dependent employers and eliminate the H-1B cap, the bane of US companies.  For many years the demand for H-1B visas has far exceeded the supply, preventing US businesses from growing.