Bill in Congress would curb L-1 visa use for foreign workers
A congressman calls the L-1 a "back door to cheap labor"
Computerworld - WASHINGTON -- Legislation was introduced in Congress this week that would set curbs on the use of the L-1 visa, a controversial visa program that, like the H-1B visa, allows U.S. companies to bring in foreign workers.
The L-1 visa enables companies with subsidiaries abroad to transfer to the U.S. from other companies executives or workers with specialized skills. But critics contend that foreign outsourcing firms use it to import lower-paid workers who then replace higher-paid U.S. employees.
U.S. Rep. John Mica, (R-Fla.) called the L-1 visa a "back door to cheap labor" in his legislation. His bill would require that employees be transferred from their own subsidiaries and not from third-party outsourcers.
The bill's intent is to block foreign outsourcing firms, so-called "body shops," from using the visa to move foreign workers into U.S. positions. But the legislation may face opposition from all sides.
Mike Emmons, an Orlando-based activist who said he lost his consulting job because of L-1 visa, lobbied Mica heavily for action on the visa and said he's disappointed with Mica's legislative fix. Emmons said the legislation includes a large loophole that would allow a U.S. company to set up shop in India or some other country, hire workers there and then move those employees here.
"This is a pretty minuscule bill," said Emmons.
However, Vic Goel, a Greenbelt, Md.-based immigration attorney who represents high-tech companies, said the legislation could prevent a multinational firm from bringing in foreign workers to help clients. For instance, the foreign workers may have played a key role in software development and are needed to implement, service and maintain the software.
"The idea is to find a solution that promotes business and closes the door on the abusers," said Goel, explaining that such a solution could involve finding a way to differentiate between "project-based [work] vs. simple provisioning of warm bodies to fill seats."
According to Mica, there are currently more than 325,000 L-1 visa holders in the U.S.
H-1B visas allows foreign workers to take jobs in the U.S. for as long as six years. Someone with an L-1 visa can work in the U.S. for up to seven years.
Read more about IT Careers in Computerworld's IT Careers Topic Center.
- 2014 IT Workplace Trends and Salary Guide Staying competitive in the IT market can be challenging. This guide provides you with insight into variety of IT workplace trends including, U.S....
- Datacenter eGuide Read on to learn what technologies are essential for high-performing data centers today, and to get a glimpse of what the data center...
- EndPoint Interactive eGuide In this eGuide, Network World, Computerworld, and CIO examine two endpoint trends - BYOD and collaboration - and offer tips and advice on...
- The Business Value of Continuous Delivery Download this whitepaper to learn more about the business value of Continuous Delivery and see why it could be a game changer for...
- It's not too late...Get Your Mobile Questions Answered Live! How can IT provide seamless and secure mobile communications and collaboration for all? Join this live Webcast as IDG asks an expert panel...
- On-demand webinar - 7 Keys to Service Catalog Implementation Success Watch this webinar to learn 7 crucial keys to make your service catalog a success! All IT Careers White Papers | Webcasts
Our 28th annual survey results show which IT skills are in high demand and which are cooling off. Also, see how your salary stacks up to peers' with our Smart Salary Tool.