Employment-based Immigration Changes in Federal Reform Package

more+
less-

Senate Bill No. 744, known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, was introduced in the Senate on April 16, 2013, is now being considered by the House of Representatives, and will bring changes to the employment-based immigration system, if enacted into law.

Among other things, S. 744 will:

  • Eliminate country-specific limits on employment-based immigration visas, which have previously caused huge backlogs for petitioners from large countries, such as India and China;
  • Exempt from annual immigration visa caps certain “highly skilled” and “very talented” immigrants, including immigrants of ”extraordinary ability,” multi-national executives, graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (so-called “STEM” fields), and physicians who fill special medical needs or who work in medically underserved areas;
  • Exempt all STEM applicants from the usual labor certification requirements; and
  • Exempt from annual caps all spouses and children of all employment-based immigrants.

The annual worldwide cap on employment-based immigrant visas that are not cap-exempt, however, would remain at 140,000 per year, subject to annual changes by the federal government.

The EB-5 investor visa program (for those immigrants willing to invest large sums of money in U.S. business) and Conrad-30 J waiver program for physicians working in medically underserved areas will also be converted into permanent programs by the Senate version of the immigration reform bill.

This legislation also contains many provisions designed to facilitate for working immigrants their acquisition of English language skills, their financial self-sufficiency, and upward economic mobility. In particular, the bill proposes to create and fund three new government structures to facilitate those objectives:

  • The Office of Citizenship and New Americans;
  •  The Task Force on New Americans; and
  • The U.S. Citizenship Foundation.

We will be tracking continuing developments in federal immigration reform as they occur, and look forward to bringing you more information in the months ahead about the progress of proposed reforms on Capitol Hill.