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H-1B Update
Prepared by the Law Offices of Cyrus D. Mehta

The H-1B issue occupied the attention of the House Judiciary Committee early this week. H.R. 4227, Chairman Smith’s H-1B bill, was scheduled for a mark-up session on Tuesday May 9, 2000, which continued through yesterday, May 10. (This bill was summarized in two previous articles: H-1B Update and Smith’s Mirage.) A mark-up session is a working meeting where the Members of a Committee express their viewpoints, offer amendments and substitutes, and, hopefully, vote on the measure.

The Judiciary Committee began consideration of Chairman Smith’s bill on Tuesday, May 9. The bill generated a lot of controversy in committee because it was quickly rushed through the Immigration Subcommittee last month and does not command the bipartisan support as another H-1B bill, H.R. 3983 sponsored by Representatives Dreier and Lofgren. H.R. 3983, however, does not have the support of Chairman Smith and has not been acted upon in the Subcommittee despite the support of 63 cosponsors and the business community. Faced with strong opposition to the bill, Judiciary Chairman, Representative Henry Hyde did not call a vote on the measure because of the likelihood that the bill would not pass. Chairman Hyde now has discretion to call for a vote at any time. It could be this week or next week. In reality, it will be when he believes he has the votes to pass the bill.

While Chairman Smith’s bill is pending, it is important to note its shortcomings. The bill would uncap the number of H-1B visas but not without conditions. Beginning next year, additional requirements will be placed on the H-1B program. Petitioning companies will be required to demonstrate that it has: (1) increased its number of American employees over the last year; and (2) increased total and average compensation to American employees over the last year. It will limit availability H-1Bs to workers who earn more than $40,000. It would require that H-1B employee’s names, employers, and salaries be posted on a Department of Labor website. It eliminates the use of H-1B visas for part-time employees and those whose eligibility is based upon experience equivalencies. Companies with assets less than $250,000 will be required to provide extensive and onerous documentation of their viability, documentation requirements not applicable to other, larger companies. Finally, the bill would require the Department of State to verify all foreign degrees. Please note that these are provisions of the bill as introduced and passed by the Immigration Subcommittee and they may have been altered during the mark-up. As this is a bill in progress, there may be more changes to it. 

While Chairmen Smith and Hyde search for additional support for their bill, immigration advocates and the business community should seize this opportunity to contact members of the Judiciary Committee and ask them to reject the Smith bill, H.R. 4227, and support the Dreier-Lofgren bill, H.R. 3983. Below is a list of Judiciary Committee members who should be contacted: 

New York New Jersey Massachusetts
Rep. Weiner (D)
Rep. Nadler (D)*
Rep. Rothman (D) Rep. Frank (D)
Rep. Meehan (D)
Rep. Delahunt (D)
California Florida Wisconsin
Rep. Gallegy (R)
Rep. Rogan (R)
Rep. Bono (R)
Rep. Berman (D)
Rep. Lofgren* (D)
Rep. Waters (D)
Rep. McCollum (R)
Rep. Canady (R)
Rep. Scarborough (R)
Rep Wexler* (D)
Rep. Sensenbrenner (R)
Rep. Baldwin (R)
North Carolina Texas Virginia
Rep. Coble (R)
Rep. Watt (D)
Rep. Smith** (R)
Rep Jackson-Lee (D)
Rep. Goodlatte **(R)
Rep. Scott (D)
Rep. Boucher (D)
Other States    
Rep. Gekas (R-PA)
Rep. Jenkins (R-TN)
Rep. Cannon (R-UT)
Rep. Vitter (R-LA)
Rep. Chabot (R-OH)
Rep. Hutchinson (R-AR)
Rep. Graham (R-SC)
Rep. Hyde ***(R-IL)
Rep. Barr (R-GA)Rep. Pease (R-IN)
Rep. Bachus (R-AL)
Rep. Conyers (D-MI)

* Indicates Sponsors of H.R. 3983
** Indicates Sponsors of H.R. 4227
*** Indicates Chairman of the Judiciary Committee

The Capitol Hill switchboard is (202) 224-3121. Ask Members to support H.R. 3983, a temporary solution to the professional labor shortage that provides employers with the workers they need while setting aside funds for U.S worker training and to reject H.R. 4227, a bill that makes the H-1B program impractical and highly limited.

Cyrus D. Mehta, a graduate of Cambridge University and Columbia Law School, practices immigration law in New York City.He is the trustee of the American Immigration Law Foundation and recipient of the 1997 Joseph Minsky Young Lawyers Award.He frequently lectures on various immigration subjects at legal seminars, workshops and universities and may be contacted at 212-686-1581 or

The above article has been written by Andres C. Benach, a graduate of the George Washington Law School, and an associate attorney in the Law Offices of Cyrus Mehta. He previously worked on immigration issues in the Offices of the Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice