On January 29th, a new bill was introduced that would help retain high skilled workers. The bipartisan bill seeks to reform employment-based H-1B and student visas, increases access to employment-based green cards, and promotes STEM education. The bill was introduced by U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.)
A summary of the bill, as posted on the press release from Senator Hatch, is copied below. I am hopeful that with current immigration momentum, this bill may have a chance of success. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.
Immigration Innovation (I2) Act of 2013
Employment-Based Nonimmigrant H-1B Visas
- Increase H-1B cap from 65,000 to 115,000
- Establish a market-based H-1B escalator, so that the cap can adjust – up or down – to the demands of the economy (includes a 300,000 ceiling on the ability of the escalator to move)
- If the cap is hit in the first 45 days when petitions may be filed, an additional 20,000 H-1B visas will be made available immediately.
- If the cap is hit in the first 60 days when petitions may be filed, an additional 15,000 H-1B visas will be made available immediately.
- If the cap is hit in the first 90 days when petitions may be filed, an additional 10,000 H-1B visas will be made available immediately.
- If the cap is hit during the 185-day period ending on the 275th day on which petitions may be filed, and additional 5,000 H-1B will be made available immediately.
- 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 portability of high skilled foreign workers by:
- Removing impediments and costs of changing employers;
- Establishing a clear transition period for foreign workers as they change jobs; 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
Immigrant Visas and Green Cards
- Enable the recapture of green card numbers that were approved by Congress in previous years but were not used
- Exempt certain categories of persons from the employment-based green card cap:
- Dependents of employment-based immigrant visa recipients
- U.S. STEM advance degree holders
- Persons with extraordinary ability
- Outstanding professors and researchers
- Provide for the roll-over of unused employment-based immigrant visa numbers to the following fiscal year so future visas are not lost due to bureaucratic delays
- 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