Senators: Bar H-1B Visas for Firms That Lay Off Workers

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Companies that lay off workers would be barred from using H-1B visas under an amendment to the Senate immigration reform bill proposed by two U.S. senators, Bernie Sanders, (I-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

The amendment prohibits companies that have announced mass layoffs from receiving any new visas unless these companies could prove that overall employment at their companies would not be reduced by these layoffs. "If there is truly a shortage of workers in the U.S. why would some of the largest high-tech companies layoff thousands of American workers?" according to statement from the senators about the amendment.

More than 100 amendments to the contentious immigration bill have been filed.

The companies that have announced layoffs and could be potentially affected by the amendment, include Dell Inc., which recently announced plans to cut about 10 percent of its 88,100-strong workforce. From 2001 to 2003, Dell applied for more than 600 H-1B visas, according to bill's proponents.

Motorola Inc., last month raised the number of layoffs it plans this year to 4,000. The company received 760 H-1B visas last year, according to a list of 200 top visa holders cited by Sanders and Grassley and first reported by InformationWeek.

Grassley had earlier released a list of the top Indian-based H-1B visa users, but a longer list was subsequently released by a source that wants to remain anonymous. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is also making available a list of the top 20 employers of H-1Bs visa issued in 2006. Motorola isn't on the USCIS list, even though the smallest company on it used about 400 visas. That may be because the USCIS list includes new visas only -- and the InformationWeek list may include visas approved in prior years but not issued until last year.

A third company cited by the senators to illustrate their point, IBM, recently announced a layoff of nearly 1,600 workers.

This story, "Senators: Bar H-1B Visas for Firms That Lay Off Workers" was originally published by Computerworld.

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