New Bi-Partisan Immigration Bill Introduced in Senate
The Immigration Innovation Act , recently introduced in the U.S. Senate, proposes much needed changes to our current business immigration laws and regulations. It is very encouraging that a group of bi-partisan senators think as many of our business leaders and economists do and that they recognize the potential economic prosperity the passage of this bill would further. Here are the highlights:
- Increases the H-1B cap from 65,000 to 115,000 and allows the cap to go up, but not above 195,000, or down, but not below 115,000, depending on actual market demand.
This is not new; the Clinton administration tested these numbers during the tech boom and it served the country well. Marked demand governed the use of the numbers because not all numbers were used in any of those years
- Removes the existing 20,000 cap on the U.S. advanced degree exemption for H-1B's.
This means that persons who have earned a masters or higher degree from and institution of higher education in the U.S. would no longer be subject to H-1b quota numbers.
- Authorizes employment for dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders.
Discussion about H-4 employment authorization is not new and the congressional grapevine has it that this should pass shortly.
- Recognizes that foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities have "dual intent" so they aren't penalized for wanting to stay in the U.S. after graduation.
This will make it much easier for foreign national students to apply for student visas at our consulates and embassies overseas without the fear of being turned down for not having sufficient ties to their home country.
- Recaptures green card numbers that were approved by Congress in previous years but were not used, and continues to do so going forward.
This measure would put a significant dent into the current backlogs in the employment third and second preference categories.
- Exempts dependents of employment-based immigrant visa recipients, U.S. STEM advanced degree holders, persons with extraordinary ability, and outstanding professors and researchers from the employment-based green card cap.
This will potentially free up a great amount of visa numbers for principal applicants who are currently stuck in the visa backlog.
- Eliminates annual per-country limits for employment-based visa petitioners and adjusts per-country caps for family-based immigrant visas.
This measure will adjust the availability of foreign qualified workers to market demand rather than arbitrary visa number regulations.
- Establishes a grant program using funds from new fees added to H-1Bs and employment-based green cards to promote STEM education and worker retraining.