President: Rae Chornenky
 
Editor: Maria Jeffrey
 
This Week on the Hill: 
 
The House Agriculture Committee considers the Farm bill this week
 
Congresswoman Bachmann's Obamacare repeal bill may come up for a vote on Thursday
 
Acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller will testify in front of the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday about the IRS scandal

What You Need to Know About the Senate Immigration Bill: Fourth (And Last) in a Series

 

          In the past three weeks, the first three parts of the Senate immigration bill released by the "gang of eight" last month have been analyzed. The bill is divided into four parts, dealing with border security, immigrant visas, interior enforcement, and non-immigrant visa programs. Last week, Title III of the bill, concerning interior enforcement, was analyzed. This week, Title IV, the last title of the bill, will be analyzed, as it deals with changes to existing law concerning non-immigrant visas. Title IV is the most innocuous section of the bill, primarily because it does not deal with illegal immigration. Talking points are below:

 

  • The first type of visa Title IV covers is the H-1B visa, which allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations for a duration of 3 years and up to a maximum of 6 years. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree (658).
  • This Title calls for current law on H-1B's to be amended so that the exact number of applicants for H-1B visas accepted per year will be determined by how many were granted the previous fiscal year, multiplied by the High Skilled Jobs Demand Index for a given fiscal year. However, the number of H-1B visas granted will not exceed 10,000 more or less than the previous fiscal year (659).
  • Calculating criteria aside, the bill states that in total, no more than 110,000 H-1B visas will be granted for the first fiscal year after the date this bill is enacted (658). For any fiscal year after that, the number of H-1B visas granted shall not be less than 110,000 or more than 180,000 (659).
  • An employer who sponsors an H-1B applicant must pay a $500 fee to the STEM program, which stands for the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program, and that fund will be established as a separate account apart from the general treasury (667-668).
  • According to section 4212 of this Title, the number of non-immigrant nurses allowed to apply for visas to work in health professional shortage areas will be reduced from 500 to 300 (688).
  • Ninety days after this bill is passed, the Secretary of Labor will set up a public website where open positions can be posted for job applications from H-1B holders (703).
  • This Title calls for cutting down the number of H1-B and L non-immigrants that are hired by American employers. (N.B. An L non-immigrant visa status allows someone who works for an international company with offices in the US to work here.) It says that the number of H1-B non-immigrants and L non-immigrants working for an American employer may not exceed "75 percent of the total number of employees for fiscal year 2015...65 percent of the total number of employees, for fiscal year 2016...[and] 50 percent of the total number of employees, for each fiscal year after fiscal year 2016" (715).
  • The Title also concerns the W visa program, which is a program for lower-skilled workers. The Title states that an employer can only hire a W visa recipient if they cannot find an eligible US citizen to fill the open position. The Title also stipulates the kind of advertising the employer has to use in order to find appropriate workers who are "ready, willing, and able to fill such a position..." (797). The W visa status can last for the duration of three years, and may be extended in three year intervals. Overall, this Title of the bill seeks to reduce the number of W visas granted over time.
A Note About the IRS Tea Party Inquiry 

          As the Senate Finance Committee is investigating the IRS Tea Party inquiry, Ranking Member Senator Hatch (R.-UT) has asked groups around the country to report to his office any IRS documents sent to conservative groups that contain the words "tea party" or "patriot" on them. If you have access to such documents, please contact Senator Hatch's office or the Senate Finance Committee.
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