By Jennifer Martinez - 03/22/13 06:53 PM EDT
The group has argued that companies who specialize in outsourcing jobs stand to benefit from an increase in the number of H-1B visas. Companies have reportedly used the H-1B program to bring foreign workers to the U.S. temporarily before moving their jobs abroad once the visa expires.
Grassley's bill, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), is intended to cut down on instances of fraud and abuse within the H-1B visa program. It would include additional enforcement and oversight mechanisms to the visa program to ensure companies don't abuse it and outsource jobs to foreign countries.
For example, the bill would require all companies to make a good-faith effort to hire American workers first and prohibit employers from advertising only to H-1B visa holders. It would also require that H-1B visa holders to be paid on par with U.S. citizens who hold similar positions.
In previous years, Grassley and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have argued that some companies have abused the program to bypass hiring American workers. The two have introduced similar legislation to cut down on abuse of the H-1B program in past congressional sessions.
Tech companies, such as Microsoft and Intel, have pushed Congress to significantly increase the number of H-1B visas for highly skilled workers, as well as free up more green cards for them. They argue that H-1B visas are needed to hire high-skilled foreign workers right away for time-sensitive projects while their petitions for green cards go through the lengthy approval process.
Tech trade groups say they are open to considering some enforcement measures to the H-1B program, but not at the expense of moving jobs offshore.
Grassley's bill adds another variable that members of the bipartisan Senate Gang of Eight will consider as they hammer away on drafting comprehensive immigration reform, which will include a provision to modify the existing immigration rules applied to highly skilled and educated foreign workers.