A bi-partisan House panel has approved the “Protect and Grow American Jobs Act,” a bill that would change eligibility requirements for exemption from the standard Labor Condition Application (LCA) requirement for H-1B-dependent employers. This is the first step in making it to the floor of Congress for a vote.

Employers who depend on the H-1B visa, many of whom are outsourcing companies that rely heavily on foreign national workers, must make additional attestations in the LCA regarding displacement of U.S. workers and good faith efforts to recruit and hire U.S. workers before obtaining additional H-1B workers. There has been bi-partisan support for legislation that would curb alleged outsourcing abuses and this bill is part of that effort.

H-1B employers currently are exempt from the additional attestations if the individuals they wish to hire in H-1B status have Master’s degrees in a relevant field or earn a minimum annual salary of at least $60,000. The Act, first introduced by Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) in January, originally would have eliminated the Master’s degree exemption and pushed the minimum salary requirement to $100,000. The amended version, which was approved by the panel, would adopt “a new formula that is equal to the lesser of $135,000 or the mean wage for applicants’ occupation in their area (but subject to a floor of no less than $90,000). The bill would also require the wage levels in this formula to be indexed for inflation over time.” The bill would require more accountability. H-1B-dependent employers must do more than make attestations; they would have to provide documentation regarding their recruitment procedures.

This bill has had a mixed reception. Some protest that it would simply push jobs overseas. Others see it as a good way to help to curb abuses.

We will continue to follow the progress of this legislation.