Earlier this week, Senators Hatch, Klobuchar, Rubio, Coons, Flake and Blumenthal introduced S. 153 the Immigration Innovation Act of 2015 (I-Squared). This bi-partisan bill marks the first positive immigration legislation introduced in the 114th Congress. It is also a solid bi-partisan piece of legislation. Please see a link to the official Senate press release.

Here is an excerpt of the major provisions of the I-Squared Act of 2015:

Employment-Based Nonimmigrant H-1B Visas

  • Increase the H-1B cap from 65,000 to 115,000
  • Allow the cap to go up (but not above 195,000) within any fiscal year where early filings exceed cap and require the cap to go down in a following fiscal year (but not below 115,000) if usage at the end of any fiscal year is below that particular year’s cap
  • Uncap the existing U.S. advanced degree exemption (currently limited to 20,000 per year)
  • Authorize employment for dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders
  • Increase worker mobility by establishing a grace period during which foreign workers can change jobs and not be out of status and restoring visa revalidation for E, H, L, O and P nonimmigrant visa categories

Continue Reading First Senate Bill Introduced to Address Legal / High-Skilled Immigration Reform

On November 20, 2014, President Obama released the long-anticipated “Executive Action” on immigration reform. See here, here and here. We will also post additional materials made available. Late
Continue Reading President’s Executive Action on Immigration – Content and Preliminary Analysis of What it Means for Businesses and Compliance

Greenberg Traurig recently reported on the looming expiration of the H-1B and H-2B annual numerical cap exemption in Guam and CNMI, while urging local employers to consider filing extensions for any employee whose H-1B or H-2B authorization expires before December 31, 2014—the date the expiration takes effect. With pervasive Congressional deadlock on the immigration front and the end of the 113th Congress fast approaching, an extension of the exemption appears unlikely. However, employers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands may be able to minimize or avoid altogether the detrimental effects of the cap exemption expiration by taking advantage of an alternative employment-based non-immigrant program to satisfy their workforce needs: the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW) Visa.

Continue Reading Employers in CNMI Facing H-Visa Numerical Cap Issues Should Explore the CW Visa Program

On September 6, 2014, the White House announced that President Obama would not entertain executive action on immigration reform until after the 2014 midterm elections, a fact subsequently supported by the President’s appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press. This comes just over two months after the President’s initial June 30th promise to utilize executive action to enact certain reforms by the end of summer. With this decision to delay action, it is important to ask what is next for immigration reform?

The 113th Congress has not been particularly productive in enacting reforms, due in part to the fact that both Republicans and Democrats differentiate in their beliefs of the necessary size and scope of changes to the immigration system. The Senate has produced a comprehensive immigration reform bill, S.744 The Border Security Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which passed with a vote of 68-32 in late June 2013. The bill was at the time seen as a monumental compromise that saw 13 Republican senators vote alongside Senate Democrats to fund greater border security, amend certain restrictions on immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, and provide a pathway to citizenship for upwards of 11 million undocumented immigrants currently believed to be residing in the United States. However, the likelihood of a comprehensive reform package has since been downplayed, and the focus has shifted to a piecemeal approach in which issues are tackled individually.

Continue Reading What is Next for Immigration Reform?