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Congress Passes New Omnibus Bill

Congress Passes New Omnibus Bill

Late night on 12/15/2015, Congress released its Omnibus Appropriation Bill, which funds the government until the end of this fiscal year, September 30, 2016. The bill includes a number of immigration issues. Following are some of the issues as summarized by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

The bill extends:

  • The Eb-5 Program
  • Conrad 30 Program
  • Special Immigrant Religious Worker Program
  • E-Verify

Changes in processing fees:

  • L-1 fees for 50/50 companies increase from $2,250 to $4,500;
  • Supplemental H-1B fees for 50/50 companies increase from $2,000 to $4,000;
  • Fees must be paid on initial petitions and extension petitions;
  • Fees are authorized for ten years, running through September 30, 2025; and
  • The funds generated by these fees will be split between the 9-11 programs and the Biometric Entry-Exit program.

Changes to the H-2B Temporary Worker Program:

  • Flexibility for H-2B workers in the seafood industry regarding when they can start working;
  • Use of private wage surveys;
  • Definition of "seasonal" as ten months;
  • Limitations on the Department of Labor's ability to implement some aspects of the interim final rule; and
  • Exempting H-2B returning workers from the 66,000 annual cap for FY2016.

Visa Waiver Program:

The bill includes the House-passed bill reforming the Visa Waiver Program, which contains categorical exclusions for nationals of Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Sudan, as well as people who travel to those countries.

DAPA/DACA:

The bill does not include proposals that would block the Administration from continuing the operation of original DACA or defending the DAPA or expanded DACA programs in the ongoing litigation.

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