A bipartisan group of eight Senators has just issued a framework for an overhaul of the US immigration system. The broad proposal includes key provisions that will impact the technology, manufacturing and agricultural industries’ ability to attract and retain foreign workers. Many of the provisions have been lifted from prior legislative initiatives that have died in Congress in past years. In addition to creating a workable guest worker visa program and creating a path to citizenship for the 11 – 12 million unauthorized immigrants already here, the framework includes:
- Establishing an entry-exit system that tracks not only admissions but whether all persons entering the United States on temporary visas via airports and seaports have actually departed the country.
- Reducing backlogs in the family and employment immigrant visa categories. Similar proposals inked over the past couple of years would all but eliminate the excruciating and lengthy wait some professionals currently endure for a green card.
- Establishing a fast-track green card to immigrants who have received a PhD or Master’s degree in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) from a US university.
- Establishing an employment verification system which will likely mandate employers’ use of something similar to the current E-Verify program.
In addition to the above, we expect the proposed legislation to include provisions to expand the current allotment of H-1B visas, commonly utilized by the IT and financial industries.
Stay tuned as the details begin to surface and the legislative horse-trading commences.