Sweeping Bi-Partisan Senate Immigration Plan Unveiled

Sweeping Bi-Partisan Senate Immigration Plan Unveiled

A bipartisan Senate group of four Democrats and four Republicans will unveil a sweeping immigration bill to overhaul the country’s immigration system. The bill is titled “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.” This extensive bill is a major attempt to comprehensively address illegal immigration, border security, and the present backlog for legal immigrants to the United States.

According to the outline of the bill, the legislation would propose the following changes:

a. The bill would establish a goal of 90% Effectiveness Rate for all High Risk Sectors along the Southern Border, meaning the number of apprehensions and turn backs of potential entrants in the most high risk areas of the southern border. If this goal is not met during the first 5 years the bill is enacted, a Border Commission (a bipartisan commission) will be formed to issue new recommendations on how to achieve the 90% Effectiveness Rate.

b. Appropriate $3 billion for increased surveillance and manpower including Additional Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers as well as $1.5. billion for fencing along the country’s southern border

c. Include a Border Security Trigger, requiring that no undocumented immigrant can achieve legal “Registered Provision Immigrant” status until the Security of Homeland Security has submitted border strategies for border security to Congress as well as include a “trigger” that prevents those with “Registered Provisional Immigrant” status from becoming eligible to apply for Lawful Permanent Resident status until the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Comptroller General submits a written certification that the that the border security strategies are substantially deployed and operational and the mandatory employment verification system to be used by all employers has been implemented

a. Provide a path for undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States continually prior to December 31, 2011 to apply for “Registered Provisional Immigrant Status” (RPI) if they pay a $500 penalty fee (except for DREAM Act eligible students), pay back taxes, and if they have not been convicted of a felony, 3 or more misdemeanors, offense under foreign law, unlawfully voted, or are inadmissible for criminal, national security, public health, or other morality grounds. Individuals with this status can work for any employer and travel outside the U.S. but are not eligible to receive any Federal means-tested public benefit

b. RPI status shall last for a 6-year term that is renewable with another $500 penalty fee, if the immigrant does not commit any acts that would render the alien deportable

c. After 10 years, aliens in RPI status may adjust to Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status, pending border security measures and a clearing of existing backlogs for legal immigrants through the same Merit Based System everyone else must use to earn a green card (i.e. , have maintained continuous physical presence, paid all taxes during their stay on RPI status, worked in the US regularly, demonstrating knowledge of the English language)in addition to paying a $1000 penalty fee

d. People in DREAM Act status and the Agricultural Program to get their green cards in 5 years and the DREAM Act kids will be eligible for citizenship immediately after they get their green cards

a. The bill would create a new “W” visa program allowing non-agricultural temporary workers to come to the US to work for registered employers

b. Eliminate family based visas for siblings of U.S. citizens as well as the Diversity Visa program

c. Eliminate caps on visas for certain employment-based categories such as derivative beneficiaries of employment-based immigrants; aliens of extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers; multinational executives and managers; doctoral degree holders in any field; and certain physicians

d. Use a point system for a new “merit based” visa. 120,000 visas would be available per year based on merit, with a maximum cap of 250,000 visas annually. Points would be awarded based on criteria such as education, employment, and length of residence in the U.S.

e. The bill would create a startup visa for foreign entrepreneurs seeking to emigrate to the US to start their own companies

f. Beginning October 01, 2014, allocation of merit-based immigrant visas for employment-based visa pending for 3 years, family –based petitions filed prior to enactment and pending for 5 years, long term workers and other merit based immigrant workers (i.e. lawfully present in the US for 10 years and not admitted under W visa)

Employment Verification: The bill would require all employers to use an enhanced E-Verify system to prevent ineligible workers from taking jobs in the U.S. Employers with more than 5,000 employers will be phased in within 2 years. Employers with more than 500 employers will be phased in within 3 years. All employers, including agricultural employers, will be phased in within 4 years.

a. The bill would raise the annual on H-1B visas for high-skilled workers from 65,000 to 110,000, with provisions to prevent such workers from undercutting American wages. The bill would set a maximum cap at 180,000 such visas.

b. The bill will provide spouses of H-1B employees with work authorizations, if reciprocal treatment is given to the spouses of US workers by the sending country of the employee

c. A 60-day transition period for H-1B employees to change jobs

Once this bill is filed, the process of examining the bill will start in the Senate Judiciary Committee where there will be two hearings