February 20, 2009
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) released a preliminary summary of the H-1B provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA or the "Stimulus Bill") and its impact on H-1B employers. The bill was signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009. According to AILA, the bill’s H-1B provisions may be summarized as follows:
• The bill limits certain banks and other financial institutions from hiring H-1B workers unless they had offered positions to equally- or better-qualified US workers, and to prevent banks from hiring H-1B workers in occupations in which they had laid off US workers.
• Companies receiving funds under the stimulus bill itself, such as engineering companies that contract with states to build the transportation infrastructure funded by the bill, are NOT subject to any restrictions - only banks and other companies receiving TARP money, or credit directly from the Federal Reserve System, are covered.
• It appears that the new restrictions do not apply to H-1B petitions filed on behalf of current employees of covered employers, if those employees are currently employed in another nonimmigrant status such as F-1, TN or L-1B; however, this interpretation is subject to future clarification in regulations that may be adopted by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.
These provisions became effective upon the stimulus bill's enactment, February 17, 2009, and will remain in effect for two years after enactment.