On January 13, 2015, U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)introduced the Immigration Innovation (“I-Squared”) Act of 2015. This bill had had been previously introduced in 2013, and blogged about on this site.
According to Hatch,”This bill is a common sense approach to ensuring that those who have come here to be educated in high-tech fields have the ability to stay here with their families and contribute to the economy and our society.” I agree.
The bill proposes the following:
Employment-Based Nonimmigrant H-1B Visas
- Increase the H-1B cap from 65,000 to 115,000
- Allow the cap to go up (but not above 195,000) within any fiscal year where early filings exceed cap and require the cap to go down in a following fiscal year (but not below 115,000) if usage at the end of any fiscal year is below that particular year’s cap
- Uncap the existing U.S. advanced degree exemption (currently limited to 20,000 per year)
- Authorize employment for dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders
- Increase worker mobility by establishing a grace period during which foreign workers can change jobs and not be out of status and restoring visa revalidation for E, H, L, O and P nonimmigrant visa categories
Allow dual intent for foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities to provide the certainty they need to ensure their future in the United States
Enable the recapture of green card numbers that were approved by Congress in previous years but were not used, and continue this policy going forward through the roll-over of unused green cards in future fiscal years to the following fiscal year
Exempt certain categories of persons from the employment-based green card cap; including Dependents of employment-based immigrant visa recipients; U.S. STEM advance degree holders; Persons with extraordinary ability; and Outstanding professors and researchers
Eliminate annual per-country limits for employment based visa petitioners and adjust per-country caps for family-based immigrant visas U.S. STEM Education & Worker Retraining Initiative
Reform fees on H-1B visas and employment-based green cards; use money from these fees to fund a grant program to promote STEM education and worker retraining to be administered by the states
Unfortunately, the likelihood of the House taking up this bill is slim, especially in the current immigration climate. But stranger things have happened, so we will continue to wait, advocate and work toward some meaningful immigration reforms.