Republican Rep. Darrel Issa of California introduced legislation that will restrict H-1B immigration visas into the United States for high-end technical jobs.
Issa's legislation aims to ensure “that our valuable high-skilled immigration spots are used by companies when the positions cannot be filled by the existing workforce," the congressman said in a statement, according to USA Today.
The legislation also raises the salary requirement for the positions to $100,000 per year, up from the current $60,000 per year, and eliminates the Masters Degree exemption.
“By raising the salary to a level more in-line with the average American salary for these positions, it would help cut down on abuse and ensure these positions remain available for companies who truly need them,” Issa said in a press release.
He continued: “It would also cut down on abuse by eliminating the masters degree exemption, which has become abused as foreign workers seeking H-1B Visas have increasingly sought and obtained low-quality certificates to meet the requirements for an exemption just to qualify for H-1B, instead of keeping the positions open for truly high-skilled positions that companies cannot fill domestically.”
A spokesman for Issa said the legislation was inspired after Disney, Southern California Edison and other companies were criticized for using the H-1B visa program to replace American workers by bringing in cheaper, foreign workers from abroad.
In 2015, Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Jeff Sessions of Alabama introduced similar legislation.
"The mass layoff of American workers at Disney, Southern California Edison, and many other companies – who were then forced to train their foreign replacements – underscores that our political system has failed in its duty to protect our own people," Sessions said at the time, according to NumbersUSA. "The H-1B program is nowhere close to the program it is said to be. Far from filling 'labor shortages', it is being used to destroy existing jobs of American workers."
Cruz's and Sessions' bill has yet to get a vote, according to GovTrack.