“[T]he most controversial measure is a proposal to expand the visa program for highly trained workers, known as the H-1B program. The provision would raise the annual cap on H-1B visas from 65,000 to 110,000, with room to expand to 180,000 depending on visa demand and unemployment.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also introduced 2 amendments: (1) “requiring employers to make a more concerted effort to hire American employees before seeking foreign labor” (Amendment Grassley 60 fails on a 2-15 vote) and (2) “[urging] lawmakers to require federal officials to audit at least one of every hundred employers who hire H-1B workers, citing a study from the Department of Homeland Security that found 20.7 percent of H-1B holders were associated with some of type of fraud or program violation.” (Amendment Grassley 67 fails on a 3-15 vote)
“The notion that we are going to do an audit just to say we have a percentage audit… I think is the wrong approach,” said Flake, noting that the audit process can be expensive for employers, even if they have done nothing wrong. “I think absent a legitimate complaint, we shouldn’t put that burden on businesses.”
Some of the senators behind the immigration reform bill are walking a political tightrope trying to defend their H-1B visa expansion plans.