Understanding the complexity surrounding immigration matters
To help you navigate the complex waters of immigration policy and reform, Foster has gathered valuable information about current and foreseeable immigration policy changes.
House Republicans Unveil Principles
On January 30, 2014, House Republicans released a one-page document outlining principles for their own version of immigration reform. Full text can be found here, courtesy of the New York Times.
Senate Introduces Reform Bill
On June 27, the United States Senate passed the immigration reform bill “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” by a margin of 68-32. Highlights of the bill include:
- Reform the H-1B visa program, including raising the regular H-1B cap to at least 110,000 and up to 180,000 and the H-1B master’s cap to 25,000; increase wages so that H-1B workers earn more than U.S. citizens; H-4 dependents receive work authorization if their home country treats U.S. citizens similarly; and require recruitment prior to filing the H-1B;
- Create a new nonimmigrant classification for lower-skilled workers called the W-Visa;
- Enact the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act (AgJOBS), which would allow current undocumented farm workers to obtain legal status through an Agricultural Card Program, and would replace the current H-2A program.
- Provide most postsecondary students entering the U.S. on F-1 visas or in the U.S. in F-1 status with the ability to seek permanent residence directly without changing to another status;
- Eliminate the backlog of employment-based permanent resident cases and allocate more visas to advanced-degree holders, skilled workers, and professionals;
- Exempt several classes of individuals from the annual numerical limits, including dependents of employment-based immigrants, first preference categories, such as international managers or executives and outstanding researchers or professors, STEM PhD holders, and certain J-1 physicians;
- Introduce a new merit-based permanent residence process for individuals based on their education, employment, length of residence in the U.S. and other factors;
- Enact the DREAM Act, providing a path to permanent residence and citizenship for individuals who arrived in the U.S. as children; and
- Provide a 13-year path to permanent residence and citizenship for certain immigrants.
Compliance and Enforcement
- Phase in mandatory E-Verify for employers.
According to the Policy Makers…
“And when I say comprehensive immigration reform, it is very similar to the outlines of previous efforts at comprehensive immigration reform. I think it should include a continuation of the strong border security measures that we’ve taken because we have to secure our borders. I think it should contain serious penalties for companies that are purposely hiring undocumented workers and taking advantage of them. And I do think that there should be a pathway for legal status for those who are living in this country, are not engaged in criminal activity, are here simply to work. It’s important for them to pay back-taxes. It’s important for them to learn English. It’s important for them to potentially pay a fine. But to give them the avenue whereby they can resolve their legal status here in this country, I think is very important.”
– President Obama 11/14/2012
“This is an odd formula for a party to adopt, the fastest-growing demographic in the country, and we’re losing votes every election. It’s one thing to shoot yourself in the foot, just don’t reload the gun. I intend not to reload this gun when it comes to Hispanics. I intend to tear this wall down and pass an immigration reform bill that’s an American solution to an American problem.”
– Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
“It is a little bit of a mirror image like the fiscal cliff. I think there are a large number of Republicans who understand that the anti-immigrant position, no immigration, we couldn’t even pass a [worker visa] STEM bill through the House because the Republican caucus said you can’t have a net increase in any immigrants.”
– Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)