Immigration Reforms – Recent Bills

ImmigrationReform

 

As the Immigration debate heats up in the US, let us take a look at three recent proposals and their salient points

  1. 1.      H–1B and L–1 Visa Reform Act of 2013 sponsored by Senator Grassley
  2. 2.      Immigration Innovation Act of 2013’’ or the ‘‘I-Squared Act of 2013 sponsored by  Senators Hatch, Klobuchar, Rubio, Coons, Flake, Heller, Blumenthal, Hoeven, Warner
  3. 3.      Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform Sponsored by Senators Schumer, McCain, Durbin, Graham, Menendez, Rubio, Bennet, and Flake

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1. Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform – Senators Schumer, McCain, Durbin, Graham, Menendez, Rubio, Bennet, and Flake

 

  • • Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
    • • Provide for legalizing unauthorized immigrants
    • • Securing borders by effective use of technology, border patrolling, and increased resources
    • • Increase aerial and conventional surveillance and provide for more agents to stem illegal border crossing
    • • Strengthen prohibition against racial profiling and inappropriate use of force
    • • More stringent tracking of entry and exit
    • • Creating a commission of senior government officials to monitor and report on the process of securing the Southwestern borders
    • • Registration of illegal migrants, and temporarily legalizing their stay subject to them paying a fine, back taxes, and clearing background checks
    • • Green cards for above to be linked to completion of the above process
    • • Restricting access to public funds for the above mentioned probationary immigrants
    • • Green cards to above category of people to be issued only after every individual who is already waiting in line for a green card, at the time this legislation is enacted, has received have their green card.
    • • Exempt for the above will be individuals who entered the United States as minor children and illegal workers in the agricultural industry who wil have a different course to obtaining a Green card
    • • Attracting the World’s Best and Brightest
      • ° Reduce backlogs in the family and employment visa categories
      • ° Give green card to immigrants who have received a PhD or Master’s degree in science, technology, engineering, or math from an American university
      • ° Admitting New Workers and Protecting Workers’ Rights
        • › Allow hiring of immigrants if there are no American workers available subject to this not resulting in the displacement of an American worker
        • › Separate program for agricultural and dairy workers when Americans are not available
        • › Market driven capability to get lower-skilled immigrants
        • › Protect workers by ensuring strong labor protections
        • › Permit workers who have succeeded in the workplace and contributed to their communities over many years to earn green cards.
        • › Creating an effective employment verification system that prevents identity theft and ends the hiring of future unauthorized workers.

 

 2. H–1B and L–1 Visa Reform Act of 2013 – Senator Grassley

 

  • • Good faith effort to hire Americans first to be made
  • • H-1B employers need to list available positions on a Department of Labor sponsored website for a period of 30 days prior to petitioning for foreign labor
  • • Prohibits advertising only to H-1B visa holders
  • • Restricts companies from outsourcing H-1B workers unless a waiver is obtained by attesting that they have not displaced a U.S. worker, and if the placement is not a “labor for hire” arrangement
  • • Makes changes to the wages to be paid to H-1B Workers
  • • Eases process for conducting audits
  • • Applications of employers with 50 or more workers not to be accepted unless they attests that less than 50 percent of the workforce are H-1B and L visa holders
  • • Requires DOL to share information about H-1B petitions with the USCIS
  • • H-1B employers must submit to the Department of Labor the W-2 tax form for each H-1B visa holder employed during the previous period
  • • Doubles the fines for violations and restricts the ability of these companies to participate in the future recruiting of H-1B and L-1 employees.
  • • Visa holders to be provided a brochure about their rights, immigration paperwork and employer obligations (including wage and working condition requirements)
  • • Requires an L visa holder to prove that a legitimate business is being set up in the United States, modifies the wage requirements and outplacement rules, provides L visa holders with a brochure about their rights, and requires a report on the blanket petition application process.

3. Immigration Innovation Act of 2013’’ or the ‘‘I-Squared Act of 2013 – Senators Hatch, Klobuchar, Rubio, Coons, Flake, Heller, Blumenthal,Hoeven, Warner

 

  • • Increases cap to 115,000
  • • Provides ability to increase cap to 300,000 depending upon market demand, through an escalator
  • • Removes cap pf 20,000 on H-1B’s issued to U.S Advanced Degree holders
  • • Allow H-4 visa holders to get an EAD
  • • Increase portability of Highly skilled workers by
    • ° Removing impediments and costs of changing employers
    • ° Establishing clear transition periods
    • ° Restoring visa revalidation for E,H,L,O and P visas
    • ° Allow for Dual intent of Student Visas
    • ° Recapture of unused Green Card Numbers
    • ° Exempt certain employment based GC’s from the cap
      • › Dependents
      • › U.S. STEM advanced degrees
      • › Extraordinary ability
      • › Outstanding Professors and Researchers
      • › Rollover of unused Employment based GC’s
      • › Remove per country limits for employment based GC’s
      • › Adjust per country cap for family based visas
      • › Increases fee for H-1B and I-140 applications with the aim of creating a fund to promote STEM education and worker retraining

The proposals are a mixed bag that having their pros and cons.

 

Pros

  • • Increase in the number of H-1′s available
  • • Allowing H-4 visa holders to work in the US
  • • Educating workers about their rights and employer obligations
  • • Trying to balance the needs of employer and employee when H-1B workers invoke the provisions of portability
  • • Increase in number of Green cards for Employment based categories
  • • Removal of Country quotas for employment based green cards and recapture of unused numbers
  • • Attempts being made to address illegal immigration
  • • Allowing dual intent for student visas

 

Cons

  • • All these proposed legislations would land up significantly increasing the financial burden on H-1B employers. This could be as high as $2000 per application.
  • • Introducing of additional fee of USD 1000 for I-140′s with the aim of creating a fund to promote STEM education and worker retraining
  • • Local recruitment efforts to become mandatory before sponsoring a H-1B worker, depending upon how it is implemented this could result in delays of a fee weeks to several months before the H-1B can be filed
  • • Shift from LCA posting being a means of just keeping workers informed about the incoming H-1B workers the legislation seem to want to change that to being another mechanism for hiring of local workers
  • • Increased wages to H-1B workers
  • • Poorly conceived thought of requiring W-2′s for all H-1B workers puts administrative challenges on H-1B employers. This could run into several thousand W-2′s each year
  • • Inhibits ability of companies with more than or equal to 50 workers to sponsor more H-1′s if more than 50% of their workers are on a H-1 or L-1
  • • Restrictive practices being proposed for H-1B employers with no thought of how the industry operates

 

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