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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jul 7, 2016.
H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2016
This bill amends the the Immigration and Nationality Act to revise employer and government requirements regarding visas for nonimmigrant aliens rated H-1B (specialty occupation) and L-1 (intracompany transfer to the United States from abroad).
H-1B employer application requirements are revised.
The bill establishes an H-1B visa allocation system, with first priority reserved for aliens who have earned an advanced degree in a field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from a U.S. institution of higher education.
The bill requires completion of a U.S. degree (or an equivalent foreign degree) as a qualification for "specialty occupation" eligibility, eliminating experience in a specialty as an equivalent to the completion of such a degree.
The bill prescribes an H-1B labor condition application fee.
The Department of Labor may issue subpoenas and seek appropriate injunctive relief and specific performance of contractual obligations to ensure H-1B employer compliance.
The period of authorized admission for an H-1B nonimmigrant is reduced from six to three years, with a three-year extension available for aliens with extraordinary ability or with advanced degrees, or professors.
The bill denies an H-1B visa to any alien normally classifiable as an H-1 nonimmigrant who seeks U.S. admission to provide services in a specialty occupation.
Labor may investigate applications for fraud and conduct H-1B compliance audits.
Labor shall conduct annual audits of companies with more than 100 employees who work in the United States if more than 15% of those employees are H-1B nonimmigrants.
The bill increases certain employer penalties, including the penalty for displacing a U.S. worker.
An employer that violates any H-1B requirement shall be liable to the harmed employee for lost wages and benefits.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services shall give Labor any information in materials submitted by H-1B employers as part of the petition adjudication process that indicates employer noncompliance with H-1B visa program requirements.
Labor may hire 200 additional employees to administer H-1B programs.
The bill prohibits an employer, unless it receives a waiver from Labor, 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.
No employer may replace a U.S. worker with an L-1 worker.
The bill prescribes L-1 requirements regarding: (1) employer petitions for employment at a new office, (2) wage rates and working conditions, and (3) employer penalties.
Labor may initiate an L-1 employer investigation.
Authority to administer L-1 visa blanket petitions is transferred from the Department of Justice to the Department of Homeland Security.