Two senators have moved to bar financial institutions that have received government bailout money from hiring foreigners under the H-1B visa programme for highly skilled workers.
Senators Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, and Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, have proposed an amendment inserting such language in the $900-billion stimulus package that the Senate is to vote on later Friday.
Their proposal, called the Employ American Workers Act, originally was to apply to any financial institution that has received bailout funding and was to remain in force for one year. Now it covers those institutions that have received government assistance and have laid off staff in the last 180 days, but it would be in effect for two years.
Indians get the largest chunk of H-1B visas. While a large number of visas are issued in technology-related areas, other sectors are also covered.
Sanders said that during the last three months of 2008, the largest banks in the country had announced 100,000 job cuts. “What they are now trying to do is bring in foreign workers through H-1B programme.”
The Associated Press had reported that the dozen banks receiving the biggest rescue packages, totalling $150 billion, requested visas for 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years for high-paying jobs.