Senators Promises Debate on Immigration Reform

April 30th, 2007

According to the Chicago Tribute, a bipartisan group of senators is planning to propose an immigration plan to win support from conservative senators.  If the group succeeds, President Bush will most likely support the measure, which may be his last shot for comprehensive immigration reform. 

According to the Tribune, “The group of senators discussing the reform plan includes everyone from conservative Southwesterners such as Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to liberal New Englanders like Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). The group includes presidential candidate John McCain (R-Ariz.), who wrote an immigration bill last year with Kennedy.”

However, it is the House of Representatives that poses a real threat to comprehensive immigration reform, since the conservative members in that body view the reform measures as an unfair amnesty.  It is not just the Republican members opposing immigration reforms, but conservative Democrats.

According to the Tribune, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has promised a Senate debate on immigration in the last two weeks of May. But if no agreement is reached soon, Reid may invoke “Rule 14″ on the immigration legislation — bypassing the traditional Judiciary Committee approval process and bringing the matter straight to the floor — if it appears there is enough accord on the bill to do so.”

There is an expecation that the Senate proposal will include a “Z” visa program for undocumented workers in the U.S. to obtain a green card, as well as guest worker visa categories that could be obtained and renewed every three years.
The Bush administration has suggested instituting a 13-year work requirement for guest laborers who wish to obtain legal permanent residency, as well as a special category of documentation to immigrants with incomes at 150 percent of the poverty line and health insurance to apply for special permission to bring their families into the country.

In the House in March, Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) introduced a bill for a guest worker program through which immigrants could apply for temporary visas and eventually citizenship. The House bill also takes a tough stance on enforcement, but it does not include a trigger mechanism and is not expected succeed in the House, at least not as is.

USCIS Announces US Master’s Cap Not Reached

April 12th, 2007

USCIS has provided an update on the H-1B petitions received that are subject to the cap and has announced that the US master’s degree cap has not yet been reached.  USCIS received 12,989 H-1B petitions subject to the US master’s degree cap on April 2nd and 3rd.  Since 20,000 numbers are available under this cap, USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions where the beneficiary has a US master’s degree.

USCIS Delay in H-1B Premium Processing

April 12th, 2007

USCIS announced that the requisite 15-day premium processing period for H-1B petitions subject to the cap will not begin until after the random lottery has selected the petitions for processing.  USCIS has received over 130,000 H-1B petitions subject to the cap and only 65,000 visa numbers are available.  H-1B petitions received on April 2nd and April 3rd that are subject to the cap (not the US Master’s Cap) will be included in the lottery.

H-1B Fiscal Year 2008 Bachelor’s Cap Reached

April 3rd, 2007

USCIS announced that it has received enough H-1B petitions to meet the cap for the bachelor’s degrees cases for fiscal year 2008.  By the afternoon of April 2, it had received approximately 150,000 cap-subject petitions.  Since there are only 65,000 visa numbers available, it will subject these cap cases received on April 2 and April 3 to a lottery process (random selection).  The petitions that are not randomly selected will be returned. 

USCIS has not yet provided any information on whether the cap has been reached for those petitions under the master’s degree cap.

If exceeding the cap more than three-fold in the first day is not dire and cogent enough evidence of the need to eliminate the H-1B cap, then it is hard to say what is.  Not only does it lead to a waste of government resources in siphoning through, reviewing and returning thousands of cases, and to businesses needlessly paying attorneys fees for thousands of cases that will be rejected, but it damages the competitiveness of the US economy.  Further, the government is losing potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in filing fees for these cases.