Bills to Watch: A Legislative Rundown


Given the close proximity to the Presidential election and the inability for Congress to function as it was intended, at least for the last 7 years, my optimism for passage of meaningful immigration reform in the next two years wanes. After all, a bill must be passed by both the House and Senate in identical form and then be signed by the President to become law. With half of Congress running for President, it is difficult to imagine these politicians throwing politics aside to serve the American people. That, I believe, would be too much to ask. Yet, there are several bills that have been introduced this year that give me hope for the future of U.S. immigration.

H.R. 213: Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2015

Introduced: Jan 8, 2015

Status: Referred to House Committee on the Judiciary: Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security

Sponsors: Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-UT3) with cosponsors Rep Raul Labrador (R-ID1) and Rep Zoe Lofgren (D-CA19)

Co-Sponsors: 25 Republicans & 14 Democrats

Summary: Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act would eliminate country-based restrictions on employment visas and to reduce country-based restrictions on family visas. Currently, the Immigration and Nationality Act limits the combined total of work and family visas to 7% of a country’s total population. If passed, H.R. 213 would remove all restrictions on the number of visas issued to a particular country in a given year. Limits on the number of visas issued would remain intact.

S. 153: I-Squared Act of 2015

Introduced: Jan 13, 2015

Status: Referred to Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Sponsors: Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT)

Co-Sponsors: 8 Republicans, 4 Democrats, 1 Independent

Summary: Immigration Innovation Act authorizes additional visas for key employment-based categories. Specifically it would create a sliding scale system for H-1Bs that would allow USCIS to issue up to 195,000 visas incrementally between April 1 and December 31. It would also start with 115,000 visas as a baseline. I-Squared would also increase the number of employment-based green cards from 140,000 to 235,000, it would eliminate per country limits, and it would reallocate unused visas going back to 1993.

S. 98: STEM Jobs Act of 2015

Introduced: Jan 7, 2015

Status: Referred to Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Sponsors: Senator David Vitter (R-LA)

Co-Sponsors: 0

Summary: STEM Jobs Act of 2015 provides 55,000 visas available for immigrants who have completed a doctorate degree in a STEM field from a U.S. institution of higher learning. All unused visas would then become available for immigrants who have completed a master’s degree in a STEM field from a U.S. institution of higher learning.

H.R. 2181: STAPLE Act

Introduced: April 30, 2015

Status: Referred to House Committee on the Judiciary: Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security

Sponsor: Rep Erik Paulsen (R-MN3)

Co-Sponsors: 2 Democrats & 1 Republican

Summary: STAPLE Act would authorize certain aliens who have earned a Ph.D. degree from a U.S. institution of higher education in a STEM field to be admitted for permanent residence and to be exempted from the numerical limitations on H-1B nonimmigrants.

H.R. 616: American Entrepreneurship and Investment Act of 2015

Introduced: January 28, 2015

Status: Referred to House Committee on the Judiciary: Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security

Sponsor: Rep Jared Polis (D-CO2)

Co-Sponsors: 12 Democrats & 9 Republicans

Summary: American Entrepreneurship and Investment Act would provide reforms to the EB-5 immigrant investor program. It would increase the targeted employment area set-aside and to defer to state designations. It would also establish preapproval procedures for commercial enterprises before an alien files a petition for classification by reason of investment, except for specified criminal or civil activities. Additionally it would provide certain immigration provisions and exemptions for the dependents of investors.

H.R. 1834: E-2 Visa Improvement Act of 2015

Introduced: April 16, 2015

Status: Referred to House Committee on the Judiciary: Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security

Sponsor: Rep David Jolly (R-FL13)

Co-Sponsors: 6 Republicans & 1 Democrat

Summary: E-2 Visa Improvement Act would permit certain E-2 nonimmigrant investors to adjust status to lawful permanent resident status.

S. 1501: American Job Creation and Investment Promotion Reform Act of 2015

Introduced: June 3, 2015

Status: Referred to Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Sponsor: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

Co-Sponsors: 1 Republican

Summary: American Job Creation and Investment Promotion Reform Act would promote and reform foreign capital investment and job creation in American communities through the EB-5 Regional Center investment program.

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Filed under EB-5 Blog Posts, F1 Visa Blog Posts, Green Card Blog Posts, H1-B Blog Posts, Immigration Reform

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