Nelson-Sessions Bill Short and Sweet

Now Senators Nelson and Sessions have introduced their own H-1B reform bill. Unlike the Durbin-Grassley bill, it would have positive impacts and contains no big favors for the “Intels.”

This new bill is a model of simplicity:

  • It would cut the H-1B cap from 85,000 new visas per year to 70,000. This would be done by subtracting 15,000 from the current yearly cap of 65,000 “ordinary” new H-1B visas; the 20,000 supplement for foreign students with a graduate degree would remain intact (as would the exempt categories, unfortunately).
  • In the event (a yearly one, in recent times) that there are more applications for visas than the cap allows, the applications would be processed in order of offered salary. This applies to both the “ordinary” H-1Bs and the one mentioned above for foreign students.

That second provision was proposed a few years ago by CWA and the Programmers Guild, and is something I’ve always supported.

Of course, if Congress were to separately pass a staple-a-green-card bill (or add it to this one), all bets are off, as it would be an end-run around H-1B entirely. This is what happened in a bill by Rep. Zoe Lofgren a few years ago; she had a provision to award H-1B visas by order of salary, but also had staple-a-green.

The bill is a breath of fresh air in the midst of so many poisonous pieces of legislation introduced in the last few years.




9 thoughts on “Nelson-Sessions Bill Short and Sweet

  1. SPEEA-IFPTE has been pushing assigning visas in an auction by salary for many years. Lofgren’s proposal was to assign visas by wage levels – essentially the same idea.


    • Generally the proposals using the word “auction” have referred to a user fee paid by the employer to the government, NOT a ranked salary level. I assume/hope that SPEEA-IFPTE meant the latter, not the former.
      I also assume/hope that SPEEA-IFPTE did not endorse the Lofgren bill, which included a staple-a-green card provision and various other major gifts to the industry.


  2. I like simple solutions. This would be effective, and end the race to the bottom, at least in regards to H-1b visas subject to the cap.


  3. Dear Professor Matloff,

    There’s a blogger by the name of Mike Shedlock who is an adherent of the Chicago or Austrian school of economics and has a bearish outlook given the policies the American Federal reserve has pursued for quite some time.

    If there is one thing he doesn’t shy away from is the issue of horrific debt – pretty much anywhere in the world but especially in US municipalities and states. Many of these jurisdictions have foolish city officials and politicians that cut a little corner here and there, tax netflix, add a water surcharge or demand a 50c levy on bagels.

    I have a great of respect for the work you’ve done on behalf of your countrymen and trying to highlight the abuse of the H1-B and OPT/CPT programs.
    And you have been candid about the addiction of foreign money and labor that universities and corporations have lobbied for, respectively.

    But the root of all of the exempt H1-B categories and even student work permits is clear. It’s the untenable and unjustifiable pension obligations with an almost absurd if not criminal projection of 8% a year growth in those funds that are earmarked to be collected by faculty and administration.

    By not highlighting (at least more often), how desperate universities are to fill seats that pay full tuition and make hefty contributions to superannuation funds, (none of which would be possible if the FEDs were not colluding with them on work permits), it’s like you’re playing being a magician. “Pay no attention to the other hand”.

    With all you’ve done we don’t expect that you open the books of every school. But this is where the problem lies.



    • I totally disagree. Most institutions, including universities, are greedy. Whether strapped for cash or not (check the astronomical endowments of some private universities), they want to get the most bang for their buck, hence their use of, and avid lobbying support for, H-1B and related programs.


      • What I don’t understand about universities and even schools is how can they look Americans in the eye knowing full well that they are taking their money in the form of tuition and offering them hope of a better future while simultaneously hiring non immigrant workers to take the very jobs that our children are training for


  4. If H-1s are accepted based on salaries offered (in decreasing order), would that be tied to DOLs MSA?

    ….as 100k in NY would be different from 100k in Timbuktu,FL


  5. Based on my Google news alerts for “H-1B” this Nelson-Session bill seems to have kicked over a hornet’s nest in the Indian press. While they seem sure it will never pass the bill is getting far more attention than the Grassley-Durbin bill.


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