The Senate passed several immigration-related bills yesterday before adjourning for their summer recess, although they failed to take up HR3012. HR3012 calls for a leveling of the immigrant visa retrogression among all applicants by eliminating the per-country immigrant visa caps, removing one of the most unfair aspects of employment-based immigration. Unfortunately, the bill does not do this by adding more immigrant visas to the quota. The consequence of the failure to add more visas to the quota is that if HR3012 becomes law, it could delay ROW immigrants' visas for several years. HR 3012 attempts to reduce this delay with its three-year phase-in, but this plan that is far from perfect.
HR 3012 also controversally adds burdens to the H-1B process, such as allowing the DOL to delay and deny Labor Condition Applications for virtually any reason. Some US employers are unhappy with these burdens, which may be the cause of HR 3012's inability to be acted on before the summer recess.
The Senate did pass S. 3245, which has four immigration-related components. S. 3245 extends by three years:
1. The EB-5 Regional Center Investor Program
2. The E-Verify program
3. The Special Immigrant Nonminister Religious Program
4. Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Program for physicians
S. 3245 still needs to pass the House. If S. 3245 is not passed by the House by October 1, 2012, then these programs will no longer exist. Because these programs are popular, S.3245 is expected to be passed by the House and eventually be enacted into law.
The fate of HR3012 is a more open question. HR3012 needs to pass the Senate and then the House. There is a window of a few weeks in September where this may happen. If HR3012 is not passed in September, there is still a chance that it could pass in the lame-duck legislative period in November/December.