Monday, May 6, 2013

WHAT CIR WILL HAVE IF WE HAVE CIR

Comprehensive Immigration Reform is heating up.  The Gang of Eight published a bill in April that is the first significant step in immigration legislation. MU Law has been to Washington to discuss the bill with Congressional staff. 

The bill is 850+ pages and will be amended many times before it ever come up for a vote.  While the final version is still a work in progress and it is still an open question as to whether CIR will ever pass, several things are becoming clear.  If CIR becomes law it will have these characteristics.


Greater H-1B visa numbers.  Current law allows 65,000 new “regular” H-1B visa approvals every fiscal year and an additional 20,000 for graduates of American Master’s degree programs.  American businesses have regularly asked Congress to raise this H-1B quota.  Congress is hearing the call.  Most potential legislation calls for increased H-1B numbers.

Increased H-1B Enforcement.  The trade-off for the greater H-1B numbers is greater enforcement regulation.  All versions of CIR step up funding for H-1B enforcement.

Special Third Party Placement Rules for H-1B Employers.  Since January 2012, USCIS has held staffing companies to a higher level of scrutiny.  Congress is now going further.  Placing employees at third-party worksites is outright prohibited for some employers and highly regulated in others.  

Abundant Green Card Numbers.  By increasing green card numbers, Congress hopes to incentive future employers and workers to adhere to immigration regulation.  For the industry this should mean faster green cards and less worrying about quotas.

E-Verify is here to stay.  E-verify is a federal program whereby voluntary employers can check a prospective employee’s work authorization.  Government contractors and some states have made E-verify mandatory.  Congress appears ready to require E-verify for all employers, likely phasing it in over a few years.

Shifting from Family Based Visa Numbers to Merit Based Immigrants.  One part of the CIR plan is that Congress appears to have settled on a merit-based green card.  A merit-based system would allow the Department of Homeland Security to weigh a number of factors, such as education, job prospects, US ties, and English fluency to prioritize an applicant’s visa.  The merit based system will come at the expense of the family categories and will eliminate the visa lottery program.

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