H-1B Visa Program and Immigration Reform

H-1B Visa Program and Immigration ReformThe Senate immigration reform bill will expand the H-1B visa program. The immigration reform bill introduced by the Gang of Eight was strengthened and passed by the US Senate. This bill is likely to face a tough battle in the House controlled by the Republicans. This bill, apart from expanding the H-1B visa program, will also expand few other visa programs.

Many US employers use the H-1B visa program to bring foreign workers to America. Annually, the USCIS makes available 65,000 H-1B visas and an additional 20,000 H-1B visas for foreign nationals who hold master’s degrees. S-744, the Senate immigration reform bill, would raise the number of H-1B visas.

The H-1B visa cap would be raised from 65,000 to 115,000. The master’s cap would be raised from 20,000 to 25,000 and these visas would be allotted to the STEM graduates who obtain degrees from US Universities. This bill would also make it easier for the H-1B workers to switch jobs in America. At the same time, it would prevent US employers from hiring more number of H-1B workers.

The above are the provisions included in the Senate immigration reform bill. S-600, the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2013, would require the US employers to first list the job openings in a government website and then hire foreign workers. This bill would require the US employers to give more preference to the American workers. This bill would also require the federal immigration authorities to audit H-1B employers and make sure that they are not violating the terms of this program. Apart from that, this bill would also require the US companies that hire H-1B workers to establish that the have not hired more number of H-1B workers, prior to sponsoring more foreign workers for H-1B visas.

Similarly, H.R.2131, the Skills Visa Act, would raise the H-1B visa cap to 155,000 from 65,000. It would raise the master’s cap to 40,000. This bill would abolish the Green Card lottery program and reallocate the visas that are currently issued through that program to STEM graduates.