Bills to Watch: H.R. 2131 The SKILLS Act

On December 15, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee released the proposed text of Bill 2131: Supplying Knowledge-based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas Act, or the “SKILLS Act”. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) first introduced this bill to the House of Representatives on May 3, 2013 and it was reported to Committee on June 27, 2013. The SKILLS Act proposes to change both family-based and employment-based immigration in a  significant way.

First, it proposes to increase the employment-based green card cap by 68% from 140,000 to 235,000 visas. Of the 235,000 green cards available annually, 170,000 would be allocated for EB-1 through EB-5 as follows: EB-1 (priority workers) 40,040; EB-2 (professionals with advanced degrees/exceptional ability) 55,040; EB-3 (professionals and unskilled workers) 55,040; EB-4 (special immigrants) 9,940; and EB-5 (employment creation) 9,940.

The SKILLS Act would also create two new visa categories for immigrants with advanced STEM degrees, EB-6 and EB-7. These categories would be allocated 55,000 green cards annually. An EB-8 category would allow 10,000 green cards for immigrant entrepreneurs who meet certain requirements.

Finally, the bill increases the H-1B nonimmigrant visa cap from 85,000 to 195,000, makes modest increases in wage requirements, and grants work authorization to spouses. You can track the SKILLS Act here.


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