Lawmakers Look To Curb L-1 Visas

Two Congresswomen are backing separate measures to restrict visas linked to IT jobs.

A pair of Congresswomen this week raised questions about the L-1 visa and promised to fight abuses of the program, which some say has cost the jobs of American IT workers.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) announced plans to introduce legislation that will, among other things, place an annual cap of 35,000 on L-1 visas and will require L-1 workers to be paid prevailing U.S. wages. The bill would also deny L-1s to any company that has laid off an American worker in the six months before or after filing an L-1 application.

"At a time when domestic employment is at an all-time high and tens and thousands of jobless tech workers and others are looking for work, it is important to close the loopholes that disadvantage American workers," DeLauro said in a press release.

Another Connecticut lawmaker this week also vowed to take action against the alleged misuse of L-1 visas. Spurred into action by a group of unemployed IT workers, Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) urged Congress on Wednesday to remedy what she sees as a weakness in both L-1 and H-1B visa laws.

Johnson, who has already co-sponsored a bill to restrict L-1 visas, told the U.S. House Small Business Committee about a "sobering" meeting in April with several laid-off IT workers. They told her "that their former employers were replacing them with cheaper workers brought in from overseas on H-1B or L-1 visas.

"In some cases the American worker was instructed to train the new arrival only to be summarily dismissed and replaced by the foreign worker," Johnson said.