Immigration Law on the Move

Below are bills recently introduced in Congress that propose EB-5 Investor Visa Program Termination and H-1B (and L-1) Visa Reforms.

Senate Bill 232 – EB-5

On January 24, 2017, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (Democrat, California) introduced “S.232 – A bill to terminate the EB-5 Visa Program and to reallocate the employment creation visas to the other employment-based visa classifications.” This bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (Republican, Iowa). https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/232

This bill would eliminate the EB-5 Investor Visa Program and redirect the annual visa quota to other visa programs. Senators Feinstein and Grassley cite fraud and abuse as amongst the top reasons to eliminate the program. The senators assert that the program does not reliably measure job growth and creation (the purpose of the EB-5 program). They assert national security as a concern and cite Securities and Exchange Commission charges as further evidence of flaws in EB-5. Senator Grassley states that the original intent of Congress in creating the EB-5 program – rural development – is not fulfilled in the implementation of the program currently.

Senate Bill 180 – H-1B and L-1

On January 20, 2017, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (Republican, Iowa) introduced “S.180 – H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2017.” This bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Richard J. Durbin (Democrat, Illinois), Sherrod Brown (Democrat, Ohio), and Richard Blumenthal (Democrat, Connecticut). https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/180

This bill would increase enforcement, modify wage requirements, and secure protections for both American workers and visa holders. This bill would prioritize visa applicants who studied at American colleges and universities over foreign workers (a preference system). This legislation was first introduced in 2007. The Department of Labor’s authority to review and investigate compliance would be enhanced by this bill. A wage floor would be established for L-1 workers. Enforcement by the Department of Homeland Security would be enhanced to investigate and audit “shell” facilities.

House Bill 170 – H-1B

On January 3, 2017, Representative Darrell E. Issa (Republican, California) introduced “H.R.170 – Protect and Grow American Jobs Act.” This bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Scott H. Peters (Democrat, California), Duncan D. Hunter (Republican, California), Blake Farenthold (Republican, Texas), Raul Labrador (Republican, Idaho), Lamar Smith (Republican, Texas), and Jared Polis (Democrat, Colorado). https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/170

This bill revises the definition of “exempt H-1B nonimmigrant” by eliminating the masters degree exemption, to curb abuse of the H-1B system. This bill raises the annual salary to $100,000; an inflation adjustment would be required every three years.

House Bill 670 – H-1B

On January 24, 2017, Representative Zoe Lofgren (Democrat, California) introduced “H.R.670 - High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017.” This bill does not have any co-sponsors. https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/670

This bill raises salary levels to $130,000, increases prevailing wage requirements (based on a 3-level formula), prioritizes market-based allocation of visas, removes per country caps, sets aside visas for small businesses, and streamlines the administrative process.

 

 

Please contact one of our Immigration Attorneys immediately to determine how the proposed rules will affect you, whether you are or are calling on behalf of an I-526, H-1B, or L-1A/B Petitioner or Beneficiary. If you have questions or comments about this article, contact Lavelle Law at (847) 705-7555. You can email the author at vchhabria@lavellelaw.com.