BREAKING! SENATE PASSES CIR
Today the Senate took the historic step of
passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Senate bill S. 744. This is a significant step on the path to the
bill becoming law. It is important to
note that nothing has changed with this action.
While we are much closer, we are still quite a ways from any legal
change. The House must act. The House is more conservative than the
S. 744 does many things. Many of the specifics will change as the
House takes action. Therefore it is much
too early for employers to plan for CIR.
What the House will do is a wide-open
question. The House will likely move
slowly. There are many factions of
Republicans who are struggling to reconcile their disparate opinions. If the Republicans can agree on the House
side, then a House CIR bill could pass.
Even if that happens, there is no guarantee
that the senate and House bills can be reconciled. At this point the odds are 50/50 that we get
CIR in 2013, and the odds improved significantly with today's Senate vote.
MU Law has been to Washington on several
occasions in the last 90 days to speak with Congressional staff about
employment-based immigration issues.
While no one knows what the final CIR bill will look like, but if CIR
passes it will have these characteristics:
Greater H-1B visa numbers. Current law allows 65,000 new "regular" H-1B visa approvals
every fiscal ear 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 incentivize employers and
workers to become permanent residents. . 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