Congressional Leaders Reach H1B Visa Agreement
(July 25, 1998) House and Senate leaders have reached an agreement regarding a compromise H1-B visa bill, according to Rep. Lamar Smith, Chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee. No compromise bill has been released.
While the details of the agreement have not been released, Rep. Smith described it as follows: "The legislation will require companies who are heavy users of foreign temporary workers to attest that they have recruited American workers and that they have not laid off an American worker to hire a foreign worker."
"These same companies also will have to attest that they do not provide temporary workers to other companies who then use them to replace laid off workers," said Rep. Smith. "If found to have done so, the companies could be fined and face debarment from using the H-1B program for one year."
The American Competitiveness Act (S 1723) passed the Senate by a 78-20 vote on May 18. It addresses the shortage of skilled professionals in high tech computer fields. S 1723 ES (as enacted by the Senate) would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 USC 1101 et. seq., by increasing the number of H1B visas, by creating a new H1C visa category for certain health care workers (thus removing them from the H1B category), and by allowing unused H2B visas to be used. S 1723 ES would increase the annual cap from the current 65,000 to 95,000 in 1999. It would set a complex mathematical formula for the years 2000 - 2002.
Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-MI), Chairman of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, and sponsor of S 1723, has led the Senate fight for adoption of S 1723.
|Senate Holds H1B Visa Hearing, 2/25/98.|
|Sen. Abraham Introduces H1B Bill, 3/7/98.|
|GAO Questions IT Worker Shortage, 3/25/98.|
|Kennedy/Feinstein Introduce H1B Bill, 3/27/98.|
|Bills: Abraham v. Kennedy/Feinstein, 3/30/98.|
|H1B Bill Passes Senate Committee, 4/2/98.|
|H1B Bills Advance in Congress, 5/21/98.|
The House version of the bill (HR 3736) passed the House Judiciary Committee by a 24-7 vote on May 20. The House bill includes protections for American workers, which are favored by the Labor Department and Clinton, but which are not included in the Senate bill.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee, has frequently argued that there is no high tech labor shortage, citing layoffs by high tech companies.
Press Release of Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).
Re: H1-B Visa Agreement.
Date: July 24, 1998.
Source: Office of Rep. Lamar Smith.
Smith Announces H1-B Agreement
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 24, 1998
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Lamar Smith, announced Friday that an initial agreement on temporary foreign worker legislation containing meaningful safeguards for American workers was reached late Thursday.
"This agreement is good for business, good for workers, good for America", Smith said. "It targets likely abusers of the system with stiff penalties".
The compromise House-Senate bill was agreed to by House and Senate immigration policy-makers and by the House and Senate leadership.
The legislation will require companies who are heavy users of foreign temporary workers to attest that they have recruited American workers and that they have not laid off an American worker to hire a foreign worker.
"These same companies also will have to attest that they do not provide temporary workers to other companies who then use them to replace laid off workers," Smith, Chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee, said. "If found to have done so, the companies could be fined and face debarment from using the H-1B program for one year."
In the most recent listing of the top 25 users of H-1B visas, at least six are publicly identified as heavy users of foreign workers, with at least 15 percent of their employees being temporary foreign workers.