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Potential changes to H-1B visa legislation

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Washington residents are well aware of the unemployment situation facing millions of Americans today. America frequently relies on immigrants and outsourced workers for special skills and laborers, and the H-1B visa is a means that provides for those workers to also receive gainful employment. We just reported in our last post on a bill known as HR 3012 and called the "Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act," which passed the House by a 389-15 vote (Employment-based immigration gets bipartisan boost in Washington). Now there's a snag. While the H-1B visa is necessary for America to continue running effectively, a Senator from Iowa is hoping to put some caps on the proposed legislation.

The intent behind the Senator's proposal is to enable more Americans to be work. He is pursuing this intent by hoping to block a current bill that eliminates per-country caps on employment sponsored green cards. In other words, there is a current cap by country on the number of employment sponsored green cards a country can apply for.

HR 3012 essentially eliminates the current country caps, meaning any country can make as many employment sponsored H-1B visa applications as they want. A ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senator hasn't specified what changes he wants in the Bill but he may be seeking broader concessions for the use of all employer-sponsored visas, including the H-1B. He has placed a "hold" on the bill, which essentially puts the legislation in procedural limbo, though his action may actually hamper his efforts.

The Senator claims that the bill may have an impact on future immigration flows, and he is concerned that the proposed law does not improve the current unemployment situation facing Americans today. He says he is worried that Americans seeking high skilled work may be out of a job due to eliminated caps on the green card applications. Even so, while the bill does not actually increase green card applications, it is expected to reduce wait times for countries where the green card backlog is highest. Countries such as China and India are examples of those with high green card backlogs due to these caps. What will happen with this complex immigration and employment bill remains to be seen, as the House and Senate maneuver for its passage into law.

Source: The Computerworld, "Grassley wants worker 'protections' in green card bill," Patrick Thibodeau, Dec 05, 2011

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