The Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform introduced by six U.S. Senators on Monday, January 28th (see our blog post of the same date) is not the only activity taking place in Washington with regard to immigration reform in the U.S. The bipartisan framework is intentionally vague with regard to specific details because it is intended to identify general principles which those senators believe should govern any immigration reform that takes place in the U.S.
Others, however, have been more specific. Senator Orin Hatch of Utah, along with Amy Klobuchar, Marco Rubio, and Chris Coons, have outlined a plan for a legislative bill they call the Immigration Innovation (I²) Act of 2013. Their proposal provides details about their proposal for immigration reform, and specifically identifies proposals for employment based non-immigrant H-1B visas; modifications to student visas; modification of the non-immigrant visa and green card program, and a modification of the U.S. STEM Education and Worker initiative. All of these are focused on business related visas, and if implemented would have a significant effect upon healthcare related work visas. Many, though not all, of the provisions would be favorable to the foreign national healthcare worker community.
It is important to note that as with all proposed legislation, significant modifications will be made from the time the bill is initial introduced to the time when it is finally passed into law. Therefore it is not appropriate to give significant weight to any particular provision of this act; however, we are bring this to your attention because we believe that it is potentially extremely relevant to you and worthy of your time to review the kind of proposals that are being made to the U.S. immigration system, specifically as they relate to work visas.
Here is a link to a summary of the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 which is self-explanatory and requires no significant comment other than to note that the plan for immigrant visa and green cards indicates a proposal to eliminate the annual per country limits for employment based visa petitions.
If implemented, this bill would have a significant affect upon foreign nationals, especially those from India and China, who would see a significant movement forward in their cutoff dates. It would have a negative effect for many other countries around the world who would see their priority date cutoffs pushed back because of the flow of Indian and Chinese visa petition.
Essentially this proposal will eliminate quotas for each individual country and everybody would be put in line in the order that they got in line without regard to the country they are from. This would shorten the wait for some, and lengthen the wait for others, especially those in the EB-2 category.
However, it is important to note that there is significant opposition to any kind of provision such as this, as well as plans to advocate aggressively for a special carve out for Schedule A nurses and physical therapists which would keep them from being severely affected by an elimination of the per country quota. Only time will tell if this in fact happens.
Things are happening fast and furiously in the legislative realm. Check back with us frequently for on-going comments regarding developments in this area.