November 17, 2017
The House Judiciary Committee passed by voice vote the "Protect and Grow American Jobs Act" (H.R. 170), which seeks "to close a loophole in the H-1B visa program by requiring H-1B dependent employers to pay sufficiently high wages to ensure the protection of the workforce in the United States." In his opening remarks, House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) cited a 60 Minutes segment that makes the dubious claim that employers "often" force American workers to train their H-1B replacements. (A recent HR Policy survey found that such actions are virtually nonexistent among HR Policy members.) Goodlatte further stated, "Few H-1B dependent companies actually abide by the recruitment and no layoff attestations that Congress designed to curtail their abuse of the program." Under the bill, the definition of "H-1B dependent" companies would be defined as those where H-1B workers make up 20 percent of the full-time workforce for large employers, an increase from the current 15 percent. Further, the new bill would establish a $90,000 threshold for H-1B workers employed by H-1B dependent companies (up from the current $60,000 threshold). After one year, that level would rise to the lower of $135,000 or the average wage for the occupation in the area of employment, with a floor of $90,000. Notably, the bill does not impose any new wage restrictions on employers that are not H-1B dependent. However, if companies allow H-1B dependent vendors or other companies to place H-1B workers at or near their premises, they may be subject to restrictions seeking to prevent the replacement of United States workers by workers on H-1B visas.