More Immigrant (Green Card) & H-1

There are signs that the Senate Judiciary Committee is considering a move to increase the availability of Green Cards and H-1B visas in an act intended to raise more revenue.

The first formal exploratory meeting will take place on October 20, 2005. As part of this a budgetary reconfiguration, the Senate had earlier voted to charge a fee of $1, 500 for every L-1 transfer of foreign employees from one company to another. The new initiative, however, is expected to reconsider the L-1 fees. If and when the new initiative gets approved, it will permit the recapture of Green Card, H-1B, and Specialty Occupation visas (transfer of unused visa numbers from previous quota years). It will ease the restrictions on applicants for status adjustment who will be allowed to apply despite the existence of backlogs (as opposed to waiting until the quota for their country of origin becomes “current”).

As an alternative, employment-based and H-1B applicants will be charged $ 500 in order to be considered for the recapture of visa numbers. Of course, it is important to remember that the anticipated proposal is at its very early stage and the final shape of the rules might be different. According to the initiative, the baseline of the 140, 000 immigrant visas per year for employment-based applicants will remain the same. However, unused family-based immigrant and employment-based visas numbers from previous years will be added to the pool. The number of unused employment-based visas to be recaptured (transferred) may not exceed 90, 000. Also, this pool does not include “Schedule A” visas. What’s important, the 140, 000 baseline will not longer include spouses and children, making many more visas available.

The anticipated proposals will make it possible to recapture unused H-1B visa numbers going as far back as October 1, 1991 (the date the Immigration Act of 1990 became effective). Estimates indicate that there are as many as 300, 000 unused H-1B visa numbers. The initiative proposes to release up to 60,000 of those visa numbers each year. Good news, isn’t it? An I-140 applicant who has or on whose behalf a petition together with the $ 500 fee is filed will be eligible to apply for adjustment of status regardless of the fact that a visa number might not be available immediately. Even though the status adjustment case may have to wait until a visa number is available, according to the proposal, the individual will be entitled to the benefits of Employment Authorization and Advance Parole (permission for travel). The proposal states that previously approved I-140 cases, however, will not benefit from the new rules.

Employers who wish to benefit from recaptured visa numbers will have to pay the $ 500 fee. The business community in the United States is currently discussing ways to introduce more legislative actions that will relax various limitations on various visas. Stay tuned.