|Washington, D.C. February 12. U.S. India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) urged lawmakers to reverse amendment passed by the U.S. Senate Friday that severely restricts the nation's H1B visa holder program.
The amendment introduced to the nation's economic stimulus package requires employers to seek U.S. workers for job openings and it forbids them from displacing their American employees with an H1B hire for a period of three months before and after applying for a visa.
USINPAC said that, rather than protect American workers, the proposed measure by Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), would drain U.S. companies of badly needed foreign talent.
"We encourage the Senators to rethink the amendment clause," said Sanjay Puri, Chairman, USINPAC. "In a global economy, such restrictions will only lead to moving jobs overseas rather than keeping them in America where they will contribute to the tax base and support economic expansion."
The original proposal had called for an amendment prohibiting firms from hiring H1B employees all together. This new proposal, which would last for two years, is considered softer than Senator Grassley's previous amendment, which would have remained in effect for a year.
Still, companies receiving money through the Troubled Assets Relief Program will have much lower access to skilled foreign workers when they need to supplement their staff.
The objective of this amendment, according to the two Senators, is to save jobs for American workers.
However, USINPAC argues that such an amendment would have the opposite effect.
US companies have reported opening offices outside of the U.S. because of difficulties they were having getting visas for their workers. USINPAC points out that the amendment would also erase support jobs in this country: those positions would move overseas with the H1B professionals.
USINPAC also cited a National Foundation for American Policy study, reporting 74 percent of respondents as saying that a lack of H1B visas has severely impaired their competitiveness in international markets.