Immigration bill to limit tech skilled worker visas

American Visa (XL)Even as immigration advocates call for H-1B US visa quotas to be increased, legislators and immigration groups are calling for the existing system to be reformed in a manner that would be the exact opposite and limit the number of visas available.

Ranking Democrat senator Dick Durbin and Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary, have introduced a new bill that would put a cap on the outsourcing of jobs to foreign workers and force companies to try to hire those with US citizenship first. The bill, entitled H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2015, would also ensure that visa holders would be paid fair wages and is the latest point of tension in Silicon Valley’s bid to try to gain access to a greater number of high-skilled immigration US visas.

H-IB US visas enable technology firms to hire highly-skilled overseas workers in technical fields such as engineering. The bill that aims to reform the visa system would put a lot of pressure on outsourcing firms in India and on Indian programmers and engineers keen to get obtain visas.

Durbin and Grassley have wanted to introduce the measure since 2007. Grassley is supporting the proposition because he is worried about the existing system being abused, despite the tech industry’s concerns. “The abuse of the system is real, and media reports are validating what we have argued for years,” Grassley noted. Advocacy group Immigration Voice also backs the bill, saying it provides mobility and legal protections for visa holders.