A new bill was introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch on January 13th, 2015, that is intended to make some positive changes to the immigration system, especially those in the country on an H-1B Visa, a student visa, or green cards. The bill, titled, “The Immigration Innovation (“I-Squared”) Act of 2015” has not yet been voted on, but if passed will be a significant step in the right direction for many who are looking to come to America, and even those who want to maintain their non-immigrant status.
I-Squared’s Impact on H-1B Visas
If the bill is passed, it will have some dramatic effects for those who are looking to come to America on an H-1B Visa. The following are the key changes that people need to be aware of:
- The cap on H-1B visas given out would move from 65,000 to 115,000 per fiscal year, which is much more in line with current demand but we will likely face the same issue (more demand than visas available) in just a few more years.
- Permit the cap to change each year based on the number of filings. The cap can go up as high as 195,000 based on demand, and down, but not lower than 115,000.
- Remove the cap of 20,000 for those in the country using the advanced degree exemption.
- The spouses of H-1B visa holders will be able to gain employment. This has been an ongoing discussion regarding these visas, and if it passes, this will significantly help many families.
- Put in place the ability for visa holders to change jobs without immediately becoming out of status. This will give them the time to either find new employment, or adjust their visa status.
I-Squared’s Impact on Student Visas
Student visas will be mostly left the way they are, but with one significant exception. The new bill will make it so foreign students attending US colleges and universities can apply for dual intent, which will provide them added certainty and opportunity while they are in the country.
I-Squared’s Impact on Green Cards
The biggest impact to green cards is that the bill will allow any green cards that are not used in one year to be recaptured and “rolled over” into the next fiscal year. This will help allow the immigration department to adjust based on the natural ebb and flow of immigration. The bill will also eliminate the current per-country limits for employment based visa petitioners. This is important because the limits are currently determined based on seemingly random numbers, which do not line up with actual demand.
In addition, the bill will exempt several categories of persons from the employment-based green card cap. Those categories are:
- Any dependents of the employment-based immigrant visa holder
- Anyone with an advanced degree in a STEM category
- Those who are determined to have an extraordinary ability
- Professors or researchers who are determined to be outstanding in their field
If you are in the country on one of these visas, or you are hoping to petition for a visa in the next year, it is important to have a good understanding of how this bill could impact the process. Please contact us today if you’d like to learn more!