Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), a vocal critic of the use of H-1B workers at Disney, introduced legislation on Tuesday to reduce the H-1B cap by nearly 25%.
Along with shrinking the supply of H-1B visas, Nelson's bill also changes how the visas are distributed. It would allocate them on the basis of salary. Employers who pay the most would be in the best position of getting a visa petition approved.
Visas are now allocated on the basis of a random lottery.
Nelson's bill, co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who heads the Senate's Immigration subcommittee, would slice the 65,000 H-1B cap by 15,000 visas. This is the so called base cap.
The U.S. has another 20,000-visa cap reserved for graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), for an overall cap of 85,000.
Nelson's proposal targets IT services firms that offshore jobs, and get H-1B visas by the thousands. They hire most of their workers under the baseline visa cap.
"By cutting the number of visas available each year and requiring those visas be given to the highest-wage earners first, this bill directly targets outsourcing companies that rely on lower-wage foreign workers to replace equally-qualified U.S. workers," said Nelson in a statement.
Nelson this year began calling for tighter rules on H-1B use after Disney hired IT services contractors that use H-1B workers. Disney IT employees at its parks and resorts operations in Orlando, Nelson's home city, said they had to train visa-holding replacements in order to receive a severance.
Nelson is already a co-sponsor, along with Sessions, of an H-1B reform bill by Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
The Grassley-Durbin bill includes a priority system for visa distribution that favors advanced degree holders and those paid a high wage. It also limits the use of H-1B workers by offshore outsourcing IT services firms by prohibiting them from hiring added visa workers if more than 50% of their employees are already on H-1B or L-1 visas.