Bank of America Corp. has been forced to withdraw job offers to a small number of foreign-born business students, the latest sign of the government's tightening hold on the banking industry.
A provision of last month's massive stimulus bill, the Employ American Workers Act, essentially forbids banks that receive government money from hiring workers with H-1B visas for two years. Those visas allow companies to temporarily hire educated foreign workers for specialized occupations, and are often used in fields like technology and medicine when companies can't find American workers to fill the jobs.
The H-1B visas aren't normally such a point of contention for banks; even the largest users of the program, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co., apply for only a few hundred visas each year. But banks are under increasing scrutiny from legislators who loaned them billions in taxpayer dollars, and the industry's thousands of newly laid-off workers aren't all feeling kindly toward their foreign colleagues.
The two senators who co-sponsored the Employ American Workers Act rode that sentiment last month, when they inserted the law into the stimulus bill.
"While we are suffering through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the very least we can do is to make sure that banks receiving a taxpayer bailout are not allowed to import cheaper labor from overseas while they are throwing American workers out on the street," Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said at the time.
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