I Approve

Generally, when you hear lawmakers lauding a bipartisan initiative.

In this case, the decision by the House Judiciary Committee to unanimously clamp down on H1B mills appears to be the exception to this rule, though I’m thinking that there may be some mischief in the carve outs for companies like Facebook and Google:

Bipartisanship on the divisive issue of immigration is a rarity in Congress, but that is what happened when the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved legislation making it harder for Indian outsourcing companies to bring high-skilled foreign workers to the U.S.

At the same time, the bill eases rules on some U.S. high-tech firms that use H-1B visas, putting political distance between Silicon Valley and Indian outsourcers as President Donald Trump condemns the program as rampant with abuse and a source of unfair competition to American workers.

The new rules apply only to companies that are heavy users of the program, or “H-1B dependent.” Lawmakers changed the definition of “H-1B dependent” to make sure technology companies that hire hundreds of foreigners every year, such as Facebook Inc., weren’t affected.

In turn, the House bill, the Protect and Grow American Jobs Act, has infuriated Indian outsourcing companies and the Indian government, according to someone who advises the government.

Nasscom, an information technology trade group in India, argues the measure “unfairly and arbitrarily” targets a handful of companies “while imposing no new requirement on the vast majority of companies that use the visas to do the … exact same things,” according to a statement from the group’s president, Rentala Chandrashekhar.

The new rules would require that firms either pay workers more–as much as $135,000 a year—or prove they tried to recruit Americans. The bill requires that no Americans are laid off by either the outsourcing firm or the clients that they serve for the entire length of the visa. It also authorizes Labor Department investigations and raises fees.


The legislation also would put Indian firms such as Infosys Ltd. and Tata Consulting Services Ltd. at a disadvantage against a handful of competitors, such as International Business Machines Corp. and Accenture Ltd., even though they also employ a large number of foreign workers and use a similar business model. That is because those companies have many divisions, which keeps the portion of their overall workforce using H-1B visas low and their firms from being defined as “dependent.”

The devil, as always, is in the details.

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