[author: Lori T. Chesser]
On July 11, 2012, Senator Charles Grassley lifted his hold on HR 3012, the "Chaffetz bill" that will eliminate the per country caps on immigrant visas, presumably speeding immigration for people from India and China, and change the numerical limitations on family-based visas. The bill, which passed the House overwhelmingly, is expected to pass the Senate now that the hold is lifted.
Senator Grassley released his hold only after adding a provision giving more enforcement authority to the Department of Labor over H-1B compliance, including the ability to conduct annual audits.
Depending on the final language and DOL implementation, this provision could help root out "bad employers" who take advantage of the H-1B program or it could be an unnecessary expense and entrapment to "good employers" who use the program correctly.
In either event, it highlights Senator Grassley's concern about fraud in the H-1B program. From the vantage point of an attorney working with H-1Bs for 20 years, I have certainly seen misuse of the program by a few employers. But by far the majority of employers using the program are doing it to find needed skill sets to enhance and expand U.S. business or the U.S. workforce.
The shortage of H-1Bs is again evident with the "cap" being reached this year within about two months. Perhaps with these additional protections in place (assuming the bill does pass and can be reconciled with the House version), Senator Grassley will be open to discuss raising the annual numerical limitation (the "cap").
Read Senator Grassley's statement.