H-1B and L-1 visas are designed to allow employers to bring foreign workers with highly specialized skills to come and work in the United States. H-1B visas are utilized for workers who have advanced degrees, whereas L-1 visas are primarily for individuals in managerial or executive roles.
Many employers and foreign nationals have enjoyed the benefits of both visas. However, recently a Senate bill has been proposed that would significantly reform the current regulations for these non-immigrant visas by placing more restrictions on employers and workers.
Currently, the laws regarding H-1B and L-1 visas have not changed. However, if the proposed changes go through, employers and employees who benefit from these visas could face substantial challenges in the future.
What Are the Current Requirements For H-1B and L-1 Workers?
The current requirements for an H-1B visa employee include:
- In addition, a valid job offer from a U.S. employer requires the worker to possess specialized knowledge or, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree, or the equivalent.
- The employer must prove there is a lack of qualified U.S. citizen applicants for the same role.
- An H-1B visa holder can stay in the country for three years. An extension is possible for additional three years for a total of 6 straight years.
The requirements for an L-1B visa include:
- The employee has acted in the role of manager or executive for one continuous year in the three years before the petition was filed.
- There is a physical location for the new office where the employee would execute their job duties.
- The new office location will require the employee to be hired within one year of the application being approved.
- L-1 visa holders are permitted to stay in the country for three years. An extension may grant the visa holder an additional 7 years for a total of 10 straight years.
What Requirements Would Change For H-1B and L-1 Workers?
The legislative branch of the U.S. government has proposed changes to visa issuance for H-1B and L-1 Workers. Some of the most critical changes include:
- Requiring U.S.-based employers to post positions that potential U.S. workers could fill on an employment website managed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The proposed website would be accessible to all U.S. employees and laid-off H-1B workers.
- Revising the requirements of “specialty occupation” of an H-1B worker to prioritize those individuals with an advanced degree.
- Requiring more documentation for companies who file petitions for L-1B workers.
- Revising wage, attestation, and recruitment requirements for all U.S. employers who petition for H-1B or L-1 workers.
What Should Employers Know About the Proposed Changes?
If you are an employer who relies on H-1B or L-1 workers, you will need to understand the new rules they pass and how they can affect your business and company policies.
Some of the new proposed H-1B or L-1 visa requirements would include:
- Employers must affirm they would not replace U.S. workers with H-1B or L-1 workers.
- Employers with 50 or more workers would only be permitted a 50 percent limit on combined H-1B and L-1 employees.
- Stricter advertising rules
- Increased wages for H-1B workers
- H-1b workers’ time limit would be reduced to three years maximum unless they have an approved immigration petition.
- Increased fees for H-1B and L-1 visa petitions.
- Expansion of DOL enforcement in terms of oversight, investigations, sanctions, and fines.
Why Do I Need an Immigration Lawyer if I Utilize H-1B and L-1 Visas?
If you are an employer who utilizes H-1B or L-1 workers, you need to be aware of the proposed changes so you can be prepared to modify company policies ahead of time. In addition, these possible changes could affect how you do business and the number of skilled foreign workers you may have on your team.
However, our law firm is constantly monitoring the situation in Washington, and if the proposed changes are made into law, we can help you understand what they mean for your company and workers.
Our law offices have made it our mission to help business owners and individuals with immigration issues and would be honored to help you understand the potential new laws if they are set in place.
Contact SwagatUSA LLC at 773-825-8695 so that we can help you remain compliant with all U.S. immigration laws.