U.S. Senator Bill Nelson

Serving Florida

Lawmakers seek to cut number of H-1B visas available each year

Dec 8, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) filed legislation today that would cut the number of H-1B visas available each year.

Congress created the H-1B visa program in 1990 to allow a limited number of highly specialized workers to enter the U.S. to fill jobs where there was said to be a shortage of U.S. workers. Under current law, the Department of Homeland Security may grant up to 85,000 H-1B visas to highly-specialized foreign workers each year.

Nelson’s bill, filed today with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), would reduce the number of visas available by 15,000.  And it would also require the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize the allocation of these 70,000 H-1B visas to foreign workers based on their salary.

“By cutting the number of visas available each year and requiring those visas be given to the highest-wage earners first, this bill directly targets outsourcing companies that rely on lower-wage foreign workers to replace equally-qualified U.S. workers,” Nelson said.

Nelson says the measure will help ensure that the H-1B visa program is once again being used as it was originally intended: to attract foreign workers with highly specialized skills not found among the available U.S. workforce.

Last month, Nelson and a handful of his Senate colleagues filed a separate piece of legislation to reform the H-1B visa program. Specifically, it would prohibit any employer from replacing a U.S. worker with an H-1B visa holder. It would also require employers to prove that they first tried to recruit American workers prior to hiring an H-1B visa holder and bar companies that employ more than 50 people from hiring any additional H-1B employees if more than half of their employees are already H-1B visa holders.

The text of the bill Nelson filed today is available here.