Sanity on skilled immigrants

The US immigration system is flawed in many ways, but one particular flaw is self-defeating. It is easier for family-based immigrants (e.g: parents of citizens) to get green cards (3-4 months) than it is for scientists and engineers to get green cards (7-8 years). Needless to say, that's exactly the reverse of what the immigration system needs to do. Skilled immigrants create jobs; unskilled immigrants fill jobs.

So, the Democrats' immigration proposal makes an important step to making the immigration system saner in this regard [emphases mine]:
This proposal will reform America’s high-skilled immigration system to permanently attract the world’s best and brightest while preventing the loss of American jobs to temporary foreign labor contractors. At the moment, high-skilled workers are prevented from emigrating to the Unites States due to restrictive caps on their entry. In order to accomplish this goal, a green card will be immediately available to foreign students with an advanced degree from a United States institution of higher education in a field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, and who possess an offer of employment from a United States employer in a field related to their degree. Foreign students will be permitted to enter the United States with immigrant intent if they are a bona fide student so long as they pursue a full course of study at an institution of higher education in a field of science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
Another problem is that there are per-country caps on immigration. These country quotas date back to a more racist era and while Congress has tinkered with the quotas, they've never removed them. Nowadays, the two countries primarily affected (because of their high populations) are China and India. And guess where the majority of science and engineering graduate students hail from? Pretty self-defeating and the proposal addresses this:

To address the fact that workers from some countries face unreasonably long backlogs that have no responsiveness to America’s economic needs, this proposal eliminates the per-country employment immigration caps.

But there has been fraud in previous skill-based immigration. The key gaming was to have "body-shops" -- companies that would put workers on their payroll, get them green cards and then try to place them in American companies for rock-bottom salaries. This was "dumping" in the labor marketplace and is the main reason that H-1 visas have drawn significant opposition from high-tech workers (as opposed to high-tech companies who love the cheap labor).

This proposal also adds fraud and abuse protections for existing temporary high-skilled work visas. It will amend current law regarding H-1B employer application requirements to: (1) revise wage determination requirements; (2) require Internet posting and description of employment positions; (3) lengthen U.S. worker displacement protection: (4) apply certain requirements to all H-1B employers rather than only to H-1B dependent employers; (5) prohibit employer advertising that makes a position available only to, or gives priority to, H-1B nonimmigrants; and (6) limit the number of H-1B and L-1 employees that an employer of 50 or more workers in the United States may hire. The proposal also authorizes the Department of Labor (DOL) to: (1) investigate applications for fraud; and (2) conduct H-1B compliance audits. DOL will also be required to conduct annual audits of companies with large numbers of H-1B workers and initiate H-1B employer application investigations. Penalties for employers who violate the law will be increased.
For L-1 visas, the proposal prohibits, with a specified waiver by the Secretary of Homeland Security, an employer from hiring an L-1 nonimmigrant for more than one year who will: (1) serve in a capacity involving specialized knowledge; and (2) be stationed primarily at the worksite of an employer other than the petitioning employer. The proposal also specifies L-1: (1) employer petition requirements for employment at a new office; (2) wage rates and working conditions; and (3) employer penalties. DHS will be authorized to initiate investigations of L-1 employers suspected of being non-compliant with the law. DHS shall also report to Congress regarding the L-1 blanket petition process.

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