Proposed Immigration Reform Bill – May 2013 Update31 May 2013
MurthyDotCom readers are no doubt aware that a comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill is currently making its way through the U.S. Senate. A brief overview of the initially proposed bill was provided in our NewsBriefs, Immigration Reform Bill Summary: Part 1 (29.Apr.2013) and Part 2 (3.May.2013). A summary of the current status of the CIR bill, including a review of some of the amendments that have been made to the bill since it was originally introduced in April 2013, is presented here for the benefit of MurthyDotCom readers.
Shortly after the bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate, it was moved to the Senate Judiciary Committee for debate, amendments, and revisions, a process known as “markup.” Committee members proposed some 300 amendments to the bill, ranging from the benign (e.g. strengthening whistleblower protections for H2B workers); to the bizarre (e.g. preventing South Koreans from obtaining green cards via the EB5 program until the nation of South Korea lifts certain restrictions on beef imports from the United States); to the outrageous (e.g. requiring certain intending immigrants to show an average income at least 4 times that of the federal poverty level). None of the aforementioned amendments was approved, and while the Committee ultimately added dozens of other amendments to the bill, the core provisions of the CIR bill went largely unchanged. Of the amendments that were approved, some of the more significant ones include:
- Initially increasing the H1B cap to 115,000 per year
- Narrowing the scope of H1B employers that will be subject to the new recruitment and worker displacement requirements
- Granting work authorization to H-4 spouses, including to those foreign nationals who come from countries that do not offer reciprocal treatment to U.S. spouses
- Making a third conviction for driving under the influence an aggravated felony, which generally would render such a foreign national removable (i.e. deportable) from the United States
- Providing additional protections for foreign nationals in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Requiring employers to provide certain employment records to foreign national workers who request them
- Increasing government monitoring and enforcement requirements related to F-1 students
- Facilitating admission and naturalization of foreign nationals employed by federal science, technology, and national security labs
- Providing doctors more time to find employment in underserved areas if they were unsuccessful with a waiver application in a state that utilized all of its Conrad 30 sponsorships
Debate Moves to Full Senate
On Tuesday, May 21, 2013, the Senate Judiciary Committee completed its markup of the proposed bill and succeeded in voting the bill out of committee. The CIR bill is now scheduled to move to the Senate floor sometime in June 2013, where the bill will be debated, possibly amended further, and then, barring any setbacks, voted upon by the entire membership of the U.S. Senate.
Once again, it is it is important to keep in mind that, as of the date of this writing, the CIR bill has not been passed into law. Successfully voting this bill out of committee was a significant milestone, but it still has to be approved by the full Senate. Moreover, the U.S. House of Representatives is currently working on its own vision for CIR. We at the Murthy Law Firm will continue to closely track these immigration reform efforts and provide updates to MurthyDotCom readers as pertinent information becomes available.
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