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On Oct. 17 a fiery debate occurred on the U.S. Senate floor. Two great supporters of immigrants and immigration reform, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL, Minority Floor Leader) and Mike Lee (R-UT, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust) battled to a draw on an issue they both support – eliminating the per-country caps on employment-based immigration. This is not the first conflict these senators have had on the subject. Senator Lee and 34 cosponsors of S.386 – Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, have vowed to come to the Senate floor as often as necessary to get the elimination of caps done. Senator Durbin agrees philosophically, but wants to go further to provide additional relief for immigrants seeking work in the United States. Senators Durbin and Leahy introduced an alternative plan, the RELIEF Act, instead.

Per-country caps on immigrant visas have been part of immigration law for some time. They were imposed to cap the number of employment-related visas that can be issued annually and to “cap” each participating country to no more than 7% of the total in any given year. This system has worked for years but is increasingly viewed as “unworkable” by developing large countries, such as India, who feel their citizens are being unduly harmed by country size.

Hundreds of Indian supporters sat in the Senate Gallery watching the proceeding last week. Each senator asked for Unanimous Consent (UC) to move their respective bills, and each objected to the other – cancelling each other out legislatively. Without UC, the senators were deadlocked. The Senate awaits another day and another attempt by these or other senators to address the issue.

Will the Congress yield and pass immigration reform this session? This is yet to be known as we all wait for the next floor debate upon hearing, “I rise today to request Unanimous Consent… Reserving the right to object…”

For more on immigration reform, click here.

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Photo of Laura Foote Reiff‡ Laura Foote Reiff‡

Laura Foote Reiff Co-Chairs the Business Immigration & Compliance Practice and is the Co-Managing Shareholder of the Northern Virginia Office. She also Co-Chairs the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice’s International Employment, Immigration & Workforce Strategies group. Laura focuses her practice on business immigration

Laura Foote Reiff Co-Chairs the Business Immigration & Compliance Practice and is the Co-Managing Shareholder of the Northern Virginia Office. She also Co-Chairs the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice’s International Employment, Immigration & Workforce Strategies group. Laura focuses her practice on business immigration laws and regulations affecting U.S. and foreign companies, as well as related employment compliance and legislative issues.

Laura advises corporations on a variety of compliance-related issues, particularly related to Form I-9 eligibility employment verification matters. Laura has been involved in audits and internal investigations and has successfully minimized monetary exposure as well as civil and criminal liabilities on behalf of her clients. She develops immigration compliance strategies and programs for both small and large companies. Laura performs I-9, H-1B and H-2B compliance inspections during routine internal reviews, while performing due diligence (in the context of a merger, acquisition or sale) or while defending a company against a government investigation.

Laura represents many businesses in creating, managing and using “Regional Centers” that can create indirect jobs toward the 10 new U.S. jobs whose creation can give rise to EB-5 permanent residence for investment. She coordinates this work with attorneys practicing in securities law compliance, with economists identifying “targeted employment areas” and projecting indirect job creation, and with licensed securities brokers coordinating offerings. She also represents individual investors in obtaining conditional permanent residence and in removing conditions from permanent residence.

Laura’s practice also consists of managing business immigration matters and providing immigration counsel to address the visa and work authorization needs of U.S. and global personnel including professionals, managers and executives, treaty investors/ traders, essential workers, persons of extraordinary ability, corporate trainees, and students. She is an immigration policy advocacy expert and works on immigration reform policies.

Admitted in the District of Columbia and Maryland. Not admitted in Virginia. Practice limited to federal immigration practice.
Photo of Robert Y. Maples˘ Robert Y. Maples˘

Robert Y. Maples is experienced in the Washington, D.C. federal, state and public affairs arenas. He has also been an advocate for building pragmatic alliances to resolve major social issues and has pioneered strategies for addressing complex public affairs crises in collaborative versus…

Robert Y. Maples is experienced in the Washington, D.C. federal, state and public affairs arenas. He has also been an advocate for building pragmatic alliances to resolve major social issues and has pioneered strategies for addressing complex public affairs crises in collaborative versus confrontational contexts. He continues his advocacy of pragmatic alliances in furtherance of client/government collaborations among the Congress and federal agencies, and serves as state counsel on complex client public policy matters. He is experienced in complex problem solving in regulatory and legislative environments and his client interests have led to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) activities and cybersecurity representation.

˘ Not admitted to practice law.

Photo of Kristen W. Ng Kristen W. Ng

Kristen W. Ng focuses her practice on business immigration and compliance matters, including legislative issues. She advises individuals and companies on a wide range of immigration matters, including nonimmigrant and immigrant employment-based cases, citizenship issues,) and investor cases (E-2 and EB-5). She provides…

Kristen W. Ng focuses her practice on business immigration and compliance matters, including legislative issues. She advises individuals and companies on a wide range of immigration matters, including nonimmigrant and immigrant employment-based cases, citizenship issues,) and investor cases (E-2 and EB-5). She provides immigration counsel to clients, including HR managers, high-level executives, and employees to ensure comprehension of each respective immigration process and procedure and to collaboratively produce the best immigration strategy and approach for each individual matter. In addition, she works on immigration reform policies and advocates for smart policies for clients.