Much has been said in the news about the roadmap to citizenship for undocumented individuals in the comprehensive immigration reform bill that was introduced in the Senate on Tuesday. However, not much has been publicized about the changes that have been proposed to employment-based visa classifications. Following is a summary of the reforms that have been proposed by the “Gang of Eight” Senators that will directly affect employers and their employees needing visas:
- All employers will be required to use E-Verify, which will be phased in based on company size within four years.
- Several changes will be made to the way employees and their beneficiaries are counted against the annual green card quota, which should open up the backlogs and allow more green cards to be issued to workers.
- Individuals will be able to apply for permanent residence under a merit-based system, which will allocate points to each applicant based on their education, employment, length of residence in the U.S. and other considerations.
- The cap on H-1Bs will be raised, but prevailing wages will also be higher. Also, employers will need to recruit for positions prior to hiring an H-1B employee.
- H-4 spouses will get work authorization.
- A W visa will be created for low-skilled workers. Employers must be registered, they must first recruit for the position and the prevailing wage must be paid. There is a cap on how many W visas can be issued, but it can vary based on market conditions.
Again, Grzeca Law Group stresses that this is only a “bill” and not a change in the law at this time. More changes are possible before the final legislation is passed. While we are concerned about some of the newly proposed restrictions on the H-1B classification, many of the other reforms are exciting. We will keep you updated as more news becomes available.
For more information on the proposed immigration reform bill, please feel free to contact Grzeca Law Group.