Bill aims to curb outsourcing, abuse of foreign worker program

11:19 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 Local

A bill proposed by a Silicon Valley lawmaker this week would boost how much companies would have to pay workers brought to the U.S. under the controversial H-1b visa program.

The bill, proposed by U.S. Rep Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif, aims to curb outsourcing and abuse of the program by raising the required pay levels for workers on H-1b visas. President Donald Trump has favored a similar approach.

Such a change could have major impacts on some local companies and agencies.

An I-Team investigation last year found that 82 percent of the 33,348 preliminary applications for H-1B visas in Ohio last year were for jobs paying below-average wages. The most frequent applicants for these visas were companies that experts say specialize in outsourcing, raising questions about whether the program is filling jobs here or allowing more jobs to move overseas.

I-TEAM SPECIAL REPORT: Lost Jobs: Importing foreign workers

The H-1B visa program is also the focus of an ongoing federal investigation of Wright State University.

Another I-Team investigation last year found Wright State University sponsored 19 foreign workers who came to the United States not to attend college but to work at an area information technology staffing company that paid the workers less than what local graduates typically make for similar IT work.

I-TEAM INVESTIGATION: Suspended WSU employees tied to IT contract

Wright State and other local schools and hospitals rely heavily on the H-1B visa program, as do local employers such as LexisNexis.

“My legislation refocuses the H-1B program to its original intent – to seek out and find the best and brightest from around the world, and to supplement the U.S. workforce with talented, highly-paid, and highly-skilled workers who help create jobs here in America, not replace them,” said Lofgren when she announced the legislation.

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“It offers a market-based solution that gives priority to those companies willing to pay the most. This ensures American employers have access to the talent they need, while removing incentives for companies to undercut American wages and outsource jobs.”

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