U.S. lawmakers slam new restrictions on H-1B Visa Program

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On Oct. 7, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Labor (DOL) announced the imminent publication of two interim final rules that will usher in significant changes to the H-1B temporary visa program and impact certain employment-based green card categories. These changes will negatively affect many Indians who are the largest users of the skilled worker visa to this country.

In response to the steps taken by the Administration, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, said t could negatively affect the U.S. economy.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi officiating as Speaker of the US House, pro tempore, April 1. (Photo: courtesy Rep. Krishnamoorthi)

“The Trump Administration’s radical proposal to change the H-1B visa program runs the risk of seriously damaging the American economy and sabotaging countless businesses during the most severe economic downturn in more than a decade,” Krishnamoorthi said in a note responding to News India Times’ query.

“While there is room to effectively reform the system, the Trump Administration is attempting to sidestep the standard policy review process in order to force through changes which would disrupt more than a third of H-1B petitions,” Krishnamoorthi contended, adding, “We need to modernize the H-1B visa program for the benefit of American workers, our economy, and all stakeholders in the program, but this proposal would seriously harm businesses and the economy instead.”

Congressman Krishnamoorthi is on the Committee On Oversight And Reform as well as on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He has also led on issues to do with job creation and technical education.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) released the following statements in response:

“With less than 30 days to go before the election, the Trump Administration announced that it will implement the most sweeping changes to the H-1B visa program we have seen in decades—and will do so by skirting the normal notice and comment process required by the Administrative Procedure Act,” said Chairman Nadler.

“While this program can certainly benefit from reforms, our laws require that the public be provided with adequate notice and a meaningful opportunity to comment before such reforms are implemented. This simply cannot be accomplished to the degree required through an interim final rule and the Administration knows this. This is clearly an attempt to score last minute political points,” Nadler added.

“Over the years, I have introduced several bills that would reform the H-1B program to prohibit sub-standard wages and ensure that unscrupulous employers don’t abuse the system to the detriment of U.S. workers,” said Chairwoman Lofgren

“Yet, while the system needs updating, changes this substantial must not be rushed through without adequate input from the public,” she added.

In addition, Rep. Lofgren said, “Congress set forth very clear parameters when it created the H-1B program and the Administration has admitted that the new DHS rule will affect more than one-third of H-1B petitions that have been lawfully filed and approved for decades. Accordingly, as has been the case with so many of this Administration’s unlawful policies, I expect that this too will be quickly enjoined by the courts.”

(Updated Oct. 9, 2020 with Rep. Krishnamoorthi)

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