ACWIAAmerican Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act
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The ACWIA increases the fines and debarment period for willful violators of the H-1B program.(93) In addition, the new H-1B law provides the DOL with expanded investigatory authority.(94) The ACWIA also provides whistleblower protection for those employees who cooperate with DOL investigations of potential H-1B violations.(95)
By imposing the "equal-benefits rule"(96) upon H-1B employers, the ACWIA eliminates "the financial incentive to hire under-compensated foreign temporary workers."(97) Under this rule, employers "must offer ...
Finally, the "no-benching provision"(99) of the ACWIA obligates employers to pay H-1B workers the full wage stated on the H-1B petition, "even if the worker is in nonproductive status (benched)" due to the employer's decision or due to the worker's lack of the requisite job permit or license.(100)
Despite the near-doubling of the annual quota of H-1B visas by the ACWIA, the number of available high-tech visas failed to satiate the demands of the rapidly expanding high-tech industry.
Meanwhile, the INS has struggled in the bureaucratic quagmire to implement the ACWIA's expanded H-1B visa program.
workers against unfair competition."(133) The sponsor of the original H-1B visa bill has also stated that the purpose of the ACWIA is to "protect the competitiveness of American business in the global marketplace and improve economic and career opportunities for American citizens."(134) This Part of the Note argues that despite being an improvement over the previous H-1B visa program, the current program does not adequately meet the goals voiced by the U.S.
Underutilization of the H-1B Visa Program Under the ACWIA
Despite its proven usefulness, the current H-1B visa program under the ACWIA still unduly restricts American business from optimally utilizing the program in pursuit of economic competitiveness.(137) For example, even the U.S.
However, like the 1998 ACWIA, these proposals fail to offer a permanent solution and will inevitably lead to another visa cap crisis in the future.
Despite some improvements to the H-1B program, the ACWIA only provides temporary stopgap solutions for the protection of American competitiveness and the domestic workforce.
Even after nearly doubling the H-1B visa quota under the ACWIA, the H-1B visa cap was nevertheless reached in June 1999.