Letter to Representative Hyde on H-1Bs

April 29, 1998

The Honorable Henry J. Hyde, Jr.
2110 Rayburn HOB
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Hyde:

We write to express our strong opposition to the bill introduced today by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), titled the “Workforce Improvement and Protection Act of 1998,” which the Immigration and Claims Subcommittee is scheduled to mark-up tomorrow. We urge you to oppose this bill and its onerous provisions that would render the H-1B program useless for U.S. employers and cripple their ability to be competitive in today’s global economy.

While Representative Smith’s bill ostensibly addresses an issue of crucial importance to American business and the American economy, the arbitrary limitation on H-1B visas that enable U.S. employers to temporarily bring into this country vitally needed foreign-born professionals, the permanent provisions included in this bill will effectively kill the program’s usefulness to employers, rendering any increase in available visas meaningless. These temporary foreign professionals’ skills enable U.S. companies to remain competitive in today’s global marketplace and create jobs in this country. H-1B professionals are hired by companies not because they prefer to hire foreign workers, but because either the companies cannot locate adequate numbers of qualified workers domestically, or because these foreign professionals possess skills, experience, and expertise that is unavailable here, and that will allow this country to remain competitive.

However, in the name of protecting and improving the U.S. workforce, Representative Smith’s bill enacts extensive new regulatory burdens on employers wishing to hire these temporary professionals. One of the main reasons the H-1B program was created was to allow U.S. employers to obtain relatively quick approval to hire foreign professionals who would enhance U.S. competitiveness and create more U.S. jobs. However, the additional burdens in the Smith bill will significantly increase the time it takes to hire a foreign H-1B professional, preventing U.S. employers from using the program, and allowing other countries to gain the benefit. These burdens effectively offset any advantage gained by increasing the H-1B cap. In addition, this new scheme imposes significant Government oversight on individual employers’ hiring decisions, especially in the area of recruitment.

The H-1B program outlined by Representative Smith in his bill is unnecessarily restrictive, and would seriously harm the competitiveness of U.S. businesses. We urge you to strongly oppose this bill and support an increase in the H-1B cap that does not impose significant new regulatory processes on the program. Thank you.


Jeanne A. Butterfield
Executive Director


Cite as AILA Doc. No. 98012958.