Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, February 2, 2004

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Hyde to Examine Abuses in L-VISA Program
Wednesday hearing focuses programís impact on U.S. jobs

BACKGROUND - Since 1970, U.S. immigration law has included a category of visas that permits foreign national executives and managers of multinational corporations to work temporarily in the U.S. Ė the so-called "L-Visa." To qualify for an L-Visa, a foreign national must be employed by a company with operations in the United States and be an executive, manager or have specialized knowledge of the corporationís product or service. The number of L-Visas issued by the U.S. government has tripled during the past 20 years, to about 113,000 in 2002. A growing number of critics assert that the L-Visa program is wrought with abuse and fraud, including irregularities documented by our overseas diplomatic posts in China. Of particular concern is whether or not corporations are given an unfair advantage over domestic businesses by enabling them to recruit and bring to the U.S. lower-cost foreign labor and creating a cross-border "sweatshop."Advocates of reforming the L-Visa program argue that such visas should be limited to only top-level executives, and that mid-level managers and specialized personnel should be admitted only after a determination is made that comparable U.S. personnel are not adversely affected.

WHAT: Full Committee oversight hearing, L Visas: Losing Jobs Through Laissez-Faire Policies?

WHEN & WHERE: Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 2172 Rayburn HOB

WITNESSES: Daniel Stein, Executive Director, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR); Harris Miller, President, The Information Technology Association of America; Michael W. Gildea, Executive Director, Department for Professional Employees, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO); Sona Shah, Displaced Worker; and Pat Fluno, Displaced Worker.

Among the questions that will be addressed by the hearing:

The issuance of visas to those with "specialized knowledge," a very unspecific phrase, seems to provide a very elastic means for visa-shoppers to enter the United States. What exactly does the term, "specialized knowledge," cover in work situations?

A State Department unclassified memo dated July 3, 1996, presents documentation indicating that, at that time, "ninety percent of the L petitions investigated by the American Consulate in Guangzhou proved to be fraudulent." How widespread is L-Visa fraud worldwide? Is this a homeland security issue?

What is the rationale for having no requirement for labor certification in the L-visa category, since labor certification requires documentation that there is no American worker who can perform the same task?

Do you think a numerical cap on L-visas issued annually, as exists in the H-Visa category, would be desirable as a control measure? Why or why not?

Does the fact that L-Visa workers, unlike temporary workers in other visa categories, do not have to be paid "the prevailing wage" mean that some L-Visa holders constitute a trans-border "sweatshop" of employment under Third World wages, displacing equally qualified but higher paid American workers?



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