US Senate Introduces Bill For Doubling H1B Visa Cap

WASHINGTON (TIP): A bipartisan groupof top US Senators has introduced alegislation in the Senate aiming at severalchanges in immigration norms, includingdoubling of H-1B visa cap and establishing amarket-based escalator.The other proposed measures includerecapturing of unused Green Card numbers,eliminating country cap and recommendinga series of new provisions to provide legalpermanent residency to talented andbrilliant.Introduced by Senators Marco Rubio,Orrin Hatch, Amy Klobuchar, TheImmigration Innovation (I2) Act of 2013proposes to increase H-1B cap from 65,000 to115,000 and establish a market-based H-1Bescalator, so that the cap can adjust to thedemands of the economy.The bill includes a 300,000 ceiling on theability of the escalator to move.

If the cap is hit in the first 45 days whenpetitions may be filed, an additional 20,000H-1B visas will be made availableimmediately.If it is hit in the first 60 days whenpetitions may be filed, an additional 15,000H-1B visas will be made availableimmediately and if the cap is hit in the first90 days when petitions may be filed, anadditional 10,000 H-1B visas will be madeavailable immediately.In case the cap is hit during the 185-dayperiod ending on the 275th day on whichpetitions may be filed, and additional 5,000H-1B will be made available immediately, thebill proposes and calls for uncapping theexisting US advanced degree exemption(currently limited to 20,000 per year).The legislation focuses on areas vital tokeep US competitiveness intact in the globaleconomy.

It proposes increased access to GreenCards for high-skilled workers by expandingthe exemptions and eliminating the annualper country limits for employment basedGreen Cards.The legislation also aims at reforming thefees on H-1B and Green Cards so those feescan be used to promote American workerretraining and education.Furthermore, it authorizes employmentfor dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders,thus meeting a long pending demand.It also proposes to increase portability ofhigh skilled foreign workers by removingimpediments and costs of changingemployers, establishing a clear transitionperiod for foreign workers as they changejobs, and restoring visa revalidation for E,H, L, O, and P non-immigrant visacategories.

The legislation, if passed by the Congressand signed into law by the US President,will enable the recapture of Green Cardnumbers that were approved by Congress inprevious years but were not used.It will exempt certain categories ofpersons from the employment-based GreenCard cap, including dependents ofemployment-based immigrant visarecipients, US STEM (Science, Technology,Engineering and Math) advance degreeholders, persons with extraordinary abilityand outstanding professors and researchers.The legislation also provides for the rolloverof unused employment-basedimmigrant visa numbers to the followingfiscal year so that future visas are not lostdue to bureaucratic delays, and eliminateannual per-country limits for employmentbased visa petitioners and adjust percountrycaps for family-based immigrantvisas.

The legislation calls for reformingfees on H-1B visas and employment-basedGreen Cards and use money from these feesto fund a grant program to promote STEMeducation and worker. “Our immigrationsystem needs to be modernized to be morewelcoming of highly skilled immigrantsand the enormous contributions they canmake to our economy and society,” saidSenator Rubio.”This reform is as much aboutmodernizing our immigration system as itis about creating jobs. It’ll help us attractmore highly skilled workers, which will helpour unemployed, underemployed orunderpaid workers find better jobs,” he said.Senator Klobuchar called for making theUS a front-runner in research andinventions, and said the legislation willenvisage norms that will help hold back thetalented students in the country.”We don’t want them (the students)creating the next Medtronic or 3M in India,we want them creating it right here inMinnesota and across America,” he said.

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