Immigration Innovation Act of 2015 (I-Squared): An Outline


Immigration Innovation Act of 2015

A Bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to authorize additional visas for well-educated aliens to live and work in the United States, and for other purposes.

Short Title: “Immigration Innovation Act of 2015” or “I-Squared Act of 2015”

Date Introduced: January 13, 2015

Senate Sponsors: Orin Hatch (R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)

Employment-Based Nonimmigrant Visas (H-1B)

  • Minimum of 115,000 visa baseline available per year
  • Maximum of 195,000 visa baseline available per year
  • Base line number of visas based on number of petitions filed in prior year
  • Sliding scale of additional visas available per year based on demand
    • Cap reached in first 45 days – 20,000 additional visas issued
    • Cap reached between 45 and 60 days – 15,000 additional visas issued
    • Cap reached between 60 and 90 days – 10,000 additional visas issued
    • Cap reached between 90 and 275 days – 5,000 additional visas issued

What this means in plain English is the visa lottery will no longer be required! However, it is not yet clear how the petitions will be processed, whether on a first-come first-served basis or on a random selection basis.

By way of example, say more than 115,000 H-1B Petitions are filed between April 1, 2016 and May 16, 2016, the USCIS will begin processing an additional 20,000 petitions. If these 20,000 additional visas are used before May 31, 2016, the USCIS will begin processing and additional 15,000 visa petitions, and so on.

Employment Authorization for Dependents of H-1Bs

  • Spouses of H-1B and L Nonimmigrants authorized to work

H-1B Worker Mobility Impediments Removed

  • H-1B or L visa filed by the same employer and alien worker automatically approved unless a material error or change in circumstances occurs
  • H-1B aliens whose employment is terminated (voluntarily or involuntarily) before the expiration of the period of authorized admission have 60 days to secure new employment with another employer

F1 Student Visas

  • F1 Students permitted to file a green card petition without leaving the U.S. or what is know as dual intent

Employment-Based Immigrant Visas (Green Cards)

  • Effective date is October 1, 2015 for fiscal year 2016
  • Allocation of all unused green card numbers from 1992 – 2013
  • Increase green card numbers available from 140,000 to 226,000
  • Requirement to use all green card numbers available each year
  • Numerical limit per year not applicable to aliens with a master’s degree or higher in a STEM degree
  • Numerical limit per year not applicable to spouses and dependents of green card beneficiaries

STEM Education Funding

  • Increase in fees for employment-based petitions to incentivize U.S. born students to pursue STEM degrees
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