Friday, November 13, 2015

Fighting Foreign Worker Expansion

The Obama Administration is proposing new regulations that could turn the F-1 Optional Training Program into backdoor H1B visas, allowing companies to undercut American workers. Comments can be submitted until November 18. The Stop Overreach website has a streamlined process for making comments. I would suggest emailing copies of your comments to you Senators and Congressman, and ask them to use their influence to turn the regulatory agency's ear. Here (in bold) is a sample of my email to Senator King including the original comment:

I recently submitted the following comment (tracking no. 1jz-8m8d-3dz9) to regulations.gov regarding ICEB-2015-0002-0011, Improving and Expanding Training Opportunities for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students With STEM Degrees and CapGap Relief for All Eligible F-1 Students. I am opposed to expanding this program, which is being used as a backdoor H1B visa to allow companies to undercut America workers' wages. I ask that you use your influence as a Senator to help make certain that the regulatory agencies address my concerns. Thank you for your time.

[My Real Name]

Text of comment:

The Optional Practical Training program allows U.S. employers to hire foreign students for up to 1 year or up to 29 months in certain fields of study. The program was meant to provide foreign students with on-the-job training that would benefit them when they return to their home countries. Because of that, these students were exempted from paying payroll tax or being paid the prevailing wage. Instead, this proposed rule, which will extend the program for STEM students to 36 months, would create a bridge to a longer-term work visa and eventual green card. Given the prevailing wage exemption and the payroll tax exemption, this gives companies a direct incentive to hire foreign workers over U.S. workers. Not only does this hurt hard-working Americans, this is a direct violation of the foreign student's pledge when they received their student visa to leave the country upon graduation.

It's hard enough already for American workers, especially recent U.S. graduates, to find work, and this rule would make it even more difficult by adding unnecessary job competition to the mix. We have already heard about Disney using H1B visas to fire American workers in order to use foreign workers whom they can pay less. We should not be creating more ways for companies to undercut Americans.

I am sending a copy of this to my Representative (Chellie Pingree, ME-01) and to my Senators (Angus King and Susan Collins, ME). I believe that Congress ought to be consulted on a policy change such as this, and moreover that programs like this ought to require Congressional authorization, which was never obtained in the first place.

That is all.

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