Both political parties agree that immigration reform is needed in our nation. The US Immigration Bill just passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. If the bill passes through the Senate and House of Representatives, it could have far-reaching effects for many immigrants. Consider four measures included in this largely-debated legislation.
- More "green cards" available. The law calls for a significant increase in work-related permanent resident visas, also known as "green cards."
- Increase in H-1B visas. The legislation will increase temporary work visas or H-1B visas to 110,000 immediately and eventually to 180,000 annually. Currently, only 65,000 H-1B visas are granted each year. H-1B visas are good for three years and are especially helpful to university graduates who wish to remain in the U.S. upon graduation.
- Merit-based visa available. This visa would allow especially talented employees to remain in the U.S. They would be distributed based on a reward system that looks at education, employment, length of time in the U.S. and other metrics. This visa would not be available until five years after the legislation passes. At that time, 120,000 would be available annually. There is a provision for the number to increase five percent each year if the allotted visas run out and the U.S. unemployment rate is below 8.5 percent. The merit-based visa allotment will max out at 250,000.
- Creation of new "w-visa." This visa targets low-skilled workers who enter the U.S. legally. It would be available to persons who come to the U.S. to work for a registered employer for a period of three years, but could extend if the job continues. Another feature is that the w-visa would allow the worker to bring his or her spouse and children as well.
We are seeing an evolution of our nation's immigration system. If you or your family need assistance navigating this challenging period in immigration, seek the assistance of an immigration attorney.