Saturday, February 14, 2009

Stimulus bill restricts H-1B new hires.

The economic stimulus bill passed by Congress yesterday contains restrictions on hiring of H-1B workers by financial institutions. Under a provision in the bill, any firm receiving TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) funds will be automatically considered H-1B dependent, regardless of the percentage of H-1B workers on the payroll. Normally, H-1B dependent companies are those with over 15% of their workers on H-1B visas.

The H-1B dependent designation subjects employers to a number of provisions, including a good faith effort to hire US workers first. Under the stimulus bill, any new H-1B hires by companies receiving funding would by subject to the H-1B dependent rules. These rules include attesting to actively recruiting American workers; not displacing American workers with H-1B visa holders; and not replacing laid off American workers with foreign workers.

These provisions could be elaborated in conference, and it remains to be seen how the provisions will affect new H-1B hires subject to the H-1B cap.

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