This post has been updated. Please click here: http://topimmigrationnews.blogspot.com/2013/01/immigration-innovation-act-of-2013-s169.html
A bipartisan group of Senators is planning to introduce a bill that not only hikes the H-1B cap, but allows it to rise automatically with demand to a maximum of 300,000 visas annually.
This 20-page bill, called the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 or
the "I-Squared Act of 2013," is being developed by Sens. Orrin Hatch
(R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Chris Coons
Presently, the U.S. has an H-1B visa cap of 65,000. There are another
20,000 H-1B visas set aside for advanced degree gradates of U.S.
universities, for 85,000 in total. Under the new bill, the base H-1B cap would increase from 65,000 to
115,000. But the cap would be allowed to rise automatically with demand,
according to a draft of the legislation.
Once the H-1B visa cap reaches 115,000, the automatic increases takes
over. The cap may increase by 20,000 visas if the cap is reached within
45 days of the start of the annual application period, April 1. That
increase will also carry over to the following fiscal year.
If the cap isn't exhausted for 60 days, it would rise by 15,000
visas. If it takes most of the year to reach the cap, it will go up
5,000. The upper most cap limit that the cap can creep up to is 300,000.
This bill, which also eliminates per-country caps, exempts from the
H-1B cap advanced degree science, technology, engineering and math
(STEM) graduates of U.S. universities. This escalation formula also allows for shrinking the cap if visa
demand falls, though it won't fall below the 115,000 threshold.
The H-1B cap increase provisions will be very controversial for many
reasons. The visa is seen as a tool by offshore companies to replace
U.S. workers. Some critics see it as instrumental in age discrimination
with an impact on wages. On the other side are U.S. tech companies, such
as Microsoft and Google, which argue that H-1B visa is essential to hiring workers.
Grassley and Durbin have been critical of the H-1B program and want restrictions on visa use.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who heads the immigration subcommittee,
has been leading a separate effort to develop a comprehensive
immigration bill that may include high-tech provisions of its own. The
Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 could also be used as a bargaining
chip in pursuit of a comprehensive bill, but that prospect remains
The bill also attempts to reduce the backlog for green cards by
exempting certain groups of people from the employment-based green card
cap, such as dependents of employment-based visa recipients,
"outstanding professors and researchers," and foreign-born graduates from
U.S. universities with advanced degrees in math, science and
engineering. It would also eliminate the per-country caps on
employment-based green cards.
Additionally, the bill proposes to
increase the fees that employers would have to pay to petition for H-1B
visas and employment-based green cards. The additional money from these
fees will go towards a grant program dedicated to promoting education
in the so-called STEM fields—science, technology, engineering and
math—and "worker retraining" at the state-level, according to a one-page
summary of the bill.
This bill is scheduled to be introduced next week on Jan 29.