A completely new bill wants to expand the H-1B visa — a hotly debated pathway for foreign workers.
Republican Senators Orrin Hatch along with also Jeff Flake introduced legislation on Thursday which aims to boost the annual quota of H-1B visas via 65,000 to 85,000. The H-1B is actually a common work visa granted to high-skilled foreigners to work at companies inside the U.S. which’s valid for three years, along with also can be renewed for another three years.
In addition, the Immigration Innovation Act, or I-Squared, legislation would likely also provide work authorization for spouses along with also children of H-1B visa holders.
An Obama era rule made which possible for spouses of certain H-1B holders to apply for work authorization nevertheless the Trump administration said in December which which is actually seeking to do away which.
The H-1B program is actually one which President Trump has eyed for reform, saying abusers can use which to replace American workers.
nevertheless the program is actually particularly near along with also dear to the tech community with many engineers vying for one of the program’s 65,000 visas each year.
Demand often exceeds the supply — in which case, a lottery system is actually activated.
The bill proposes to add a “market-based escalator” so the supply can better support demand. which means granting up to 110,000 additional visas (a total of 195,000), along with also prioritizing visas for those with master’s degrees, foreign Ph.D.’s or U.S. STEM bachelor degrees.
Reform of the high-skilled visa system has been a goal of Hatch along with also different lawmakers for years, nevertheless has had a difficult time passing Congress. The bill, originally introduced inside the Senate in January 2015, seeks to placate the Trump administration’s concerns. For example, by specifying which employers may not use the visa with intent to substitute an American worker.
Moreover, which seeks to remove per country limits for green cards sponsored by employers, which contributes to a backlog for citizens via countries like India along with also China.
Related: Trump administration toughens H-1B visa renewal process
The bill also proposes lifting the existing cap of 20,000 additional H-1B visas reserved for those with master’s degrees if their employers agree to sponsor their green cards.
“Senator Hatch believes which inside the current political environment which effort represents an ideal step in bringing Republicans along with also Democrats together to address flaws in our broken immigration system,” said Senator Hatch’s spokesman Matt Whitlock in a statement. Hatch announced earlier which month which he won’t seek re-election.
Execs via Microsoft along with also Facebook, as well as industry associations, issued statements in support of the bill.
Dean Garfield, president along with also CEO of Information Technology Industry Council, says the bill does “help meet the needs of our economy, drive completely new investment, along with also bolster the tech industry’s commitment to growing the domestic workforce.”
“I-Squared is actually an opportunity to do the right thing for all the right reasons,” he said in a statement.
Tahmina Watson, of Watson Immigration Law, agreed which I-Squared appears to address the country’s business along with also economic demands. “The bill should garner bipartisan support along with also satisfy the White House with their concerns about the H-1B visa,” she told sy88pgw.
The measure is actually unlikely to be attached to a bill to protect “Dreamers” — undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Lawmakers are trying to keep those DACA negotiations more narrow than visa reform, along with also even which compromise is actually facing long odds in a divided Washington.
— sy88pgw’s Tal Kopan contributed reporting
sy88pgw (completely new York) First published January 25, 2018: 4:18 PM ET