Month: July 2017

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New Dream Act of 2017 Introduced in the Senate and the House

On July 20, 2017, Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durban (D-IL) introduced a bipartisan bill entitled the Dream Act of 2017. On July 26, 2017, Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lucille Roybal-Allard introduced the House version to the House of Representatives.

This Dream Act is not the first immigration reform attempt relating to DREAMers. Versions have been introduced over the past years but have never passed.

The Dream Act of 2017 would allow young people brought to the U.S. as children to apply for lawful permanent residence, if they meet certain requirements. Some of the qualifications include:

  1. Long-term residency in the U.S. since childhood
  2. Graduation from high school or receipt of a GED
  3. Pursuance of higher education, lawful employment for at least 3 years, or service in the military
  4. Passing background checks
  5. Demonstrated proficiency in English and a knowledge of U.S. history
  6. No convictions for felonies or other serious crimes

If passed, it would likely provide a pathway to citizenship for many of the 600,000 young people who are currently registered under DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

The one-page description of the proposed Senate Bill can be found here. A section by section outline can be found here.

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An extra 15,000 temporary work visas offered this year

About the H-2B

The H-2B visa is for seasonal, non-agriculture workers. These types of jobs include those at resorts, landscaping companies, and seafood harvesters. Only nationals of certain countries are eligible for an H-2B visa. The list of eligible countries can be found on USCIS’s website here.

The statutory annual limit is set at 66,000. Half are granted to those who start work between October and March, and the other half are granted to those who start work between April and September. Certain individuals are exempt from the cap.

Shortage of workers and cap increase

Many seasonal businesses have noted a shortage of Americans willing to do these jobs and sought permission to hire more immigrants. Just in March of this year, NPR released a story discussing how the cap had already been reached and resort towns in Maine were worried about their ability to find workers for their peak season.

In response to these concerns, earlier this year Congress voted to allow Homeland Security to offer up to 70,000 additional visas as a “one-time extension.” This week, the administration announced it would be offering an additional 15,000 visas to “help American businesses in danger of suffering irreparable harm because of a shortage of such labor.”

Process for applying for an H-2B

To apply for an H-2B visa, the employer must submit a petition and show that there (1) there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work, (2) employing an H-2B worker would not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers, and (3) its need for the prospective worker’s services or labor is temporary (based on a one-time occurrence, a seasonal need, a peakload need, or an intermittent need).

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USCIS Resumes H-1B Premium Processing for Conrad 30 and Interested Government Agency Waivers

On June 8, 2017, we posted about USCIS’s suspension of the H-1B premium processing option, an option which had allowed for an expedited review process. The suspension was put in place to allow for USCIS to clear its backlog of pending petitions; however, many argued that it would have a severe negative impact on industries that rely on foreign workers.

On June 26, 2017, USCIS resumed premium processing of H-1B petitions filed for medical doctors under the Conrad 30 program and those filed under interested government agency waivers.

The Conrad 30 program allows foreign born doctors to stay in the U.S. after completing their medical training to work in areas that have shortages of physicians. These communities have come to rely on foreign doctors. In his statement announcing the resuming of premium processing, the USCIS Acting Director affirmed that “[the Conrad 30] program improves health care access for Americans living in underserved areas.”

The suspension of premium processing still applies to all other H-1B case types; however, USCIS states that it will resume the process “as workloads permit.”