Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What effect will the H1B Visa Reform Bill have on existing H1B holders drawing salary of less than 100K P.A.?


Question from an online forum: What effect will the H1B Visa Reform Bill have on existing H1B holders drawing salary of less than 100K P.A.?

If this ISSA Bill becomes the Law, what will happen to the workers with a salary less than 100K annually? Is there any explicit provision to deport such people or they would not get affected?


My two cents on the topic and also reading through the draft of the bill. The rationale for Immigration reform and “HIGH-SKILLED INTEGRITY AND FAIRNESS ACT OF 2017” is certainly a valid one! Let us go by what we read in the text of the proposed bill (and not speculation in the media).
Let us look at the key provisions listed in the proposed bill:

SECTION 2. NUMERICAL LIMITATION TO ANY SINGLE FOREIGN STATE . Eliminates the “per country” cap for employment-based immigrant visas so that all workers are treated fairly.
  • Great news for Indians and Chinese who currently have to wait for number of years for their Green Card (immigrant visa) applications to be approved!
SECTION. 3. STRENGTHENING INTEGRITY IN THE H-1B PROGRAM BY REFORMING THE EXEMPT H-1B DEFINITION - Re-sets the current dependent wage exemption level of $60,000 which was established in 1998 and has since remained unchanged. Per the Department of Labor May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages (the most recent data available), the new annual wage exemption level would be greater than $130,000 (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes150000.htm).
  • Great news for Individuals in the long term: Folks on H1 Visas drawing less than $130K will get a raise if their employer needs them to remain in the US.
  • Those who are not eligible for a raise may find it hard to remain in the US on H1 Visas (survival of the fittest)
SECTION 4. TRANSPARENCY FOR AND PROHIBITING PENALTIES AGAINST FOREIGN HIGHSKILLED WORKERS. Protects H-1B workers by prohibiting liquidated damages for H-1B workers who cease employment prior to a date agreed to by the nonimmigrant and the employer.
  • Great news for Individuals in the long term: Removes the burden of “contracts” that some folks on H1 have to sign with employers
SECTION 5. REFORMING THE PREVAILING WAGE SYSTEM TO PROTECT AMERICAN WORKERS · Increases prevailing wage requirements to protect U.S. workers by replacing the current 4-level wage calculation with a new, more balanced 3-level wage formula.
and
SECTION 6-10
Good for employees if implemented with the right intent
———————————————- Bottomline ——————————————
In the short term : There will be ambiguity, new visas applications may be delayed and renewal of visas might be denied or delayed.
In long term: All workers - Americans and foreign workers (including Indians and Chinese visa aspirants) - will benefit. Employees who get sponsored for H1 and L1 Visas will get a much better salary and benefits!
Note: I have taken the viewpoint of “what’s in it for non-immigrant workers.” … I will continue to explore the topic from the perspective of employers (American and Foreign)