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Foreign Worker Visas

 

While virtually all adult foreigners who move to the United States, either permanently or for a temporary period exceeding 90 days, are "foreign workers" because they assume jobs, the term in this section is used to emphasize: (1) immigrants admitted after meeting the skill and/or educational requirements to qualify for an employment-based visa and have a job offer and sponsorship from a U.S. employer; (2) foreigners who are admitted as guest workers to perform a specific job for a limited period of time (e.g., H-1B skilled workers, H-2A agricultural workers, and H-2B unskilled, non-seasonal workers); and (3) foreigners who are admitted on a temporary, non-work visa, who nonetheless are permitted to work during their stay or are granted waivers from normal visa requirements so that they may remain in the United States and work after the original visa expires (e.g., some foreign students are permitted to work while they pursue their education here and some Members of Congress have proposed waiving certain visa requirements to allow those studying math, engineering, and other sciences to stay and work after they finish their education). Due to relaxed enforcement of visa requirements and labor standards, certain employers use foreign workers as a source of cheap labor, subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, as a way to keep downward pressure on wages industry-wide. The result is fewer job opportunities and lower wages for all U.S. workers. This section charts House and Senate bills and joint resolutions in three subcategories: Permanent, Employment-Based Immigrants; Guest Workers; and Other Workers. Each subcategory is organized by whether or not the legislation increases or decreases the number of foreign workers.

HOUSE BILLS

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

H.R.6179 - would exempt employees of the “mobile amusement industry” from the H-2B numerical limitation of 66,000. Rep. Charles Djou (R-Hawaii) is the bill’s main sponsor.
No Cosponsors

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

H.R.5687 (Underserved Area Nursing Relief Restoration Act of 2010) - would extend the application period for non-immigrant nursing petitions in “shortage areas” by 3 years. This would allow more foreign nurses to compete with American nurses over jobs and wages. Rep. Henry Cueller (D-Texas) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

H.R.5658 Securing Knowledge, Innovation, and Leadership [SKIL] Act of 2010 - would more than double the number of employment-based (EB) immigrant visas available annually; would exempt EB immigrants seeking admission to work in “shortage occupations”; would vastly increase the cap on H-1B visas (i.e., a minimum cap of 115,000 per year, with 20 percent increases authorized in any year following a year in which the cap was met), but would eliminate statutory provisions authorizing a reduction in this cap; would create various permanent exemptions from numerical caps on admission for “high skill” aliens (e.g., aliens with graduate degrees from U.S. universities; aliens with graduate degrees in the sciences or math who have been working in a related field in the U.S. for at least three years, etc.); would extend the authorized stay of L-1 “intracompany transferee/specialized knowledge” nonimmigrants (no cap on these visas) for whom applications for LPR status are pending, and, in so doing, would, for all intents and purposes, make their employment permanent, thus taking more jobs away from U.S. workers; and would expand eligibility for student visas. Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

Decrease Foreign Worker Visas

H.R.5397 (H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2010) - would update and improve the H-1B and L-1 visa process, making it more difficult for employers to import foreign workers without making a full attempt to hire an American employee. More specifically, the legislation would: revise wage determination requirements; require Internet posting of employment positions; lengthen U.S. worker displacement protections; prohibit an employer from advertising a position available only to H-1B nonimmigrants; limit the number of H-1B and L-1 employees that an employer of 50 or more workers in the United States may hire; direct the Department of Labor (DOL) to conduct annual audits of companies with large numbers of H-1B workers; increase employer penalties; provide for information sharing between the DOL and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services regarding employer noncompliance; and would authorize the DOL to hire 200 additional employees to administer H-1B programs. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

H.R.5193 (StartUp Visa Act of 2010) - would create a new unlimited visa category that would leverage visas and permanent residency in exchange for capital investment ($50,000 to $10 million under certain conditions) in the United States over a 2 to 3 year period of time. The idea of this legislation is to stimulate foreign investment, boost tax revenue, and aid job growth (specifies employment other than the immigrant’s spouse, sons, or daughters). However, the net effect increases the number of foreign workers and upholds a system like EB-5 where wealthy foreigners can buy their way into U.S. residency. Please see S.3029 for the Senate companion bill. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

Provide Amnesty for Illegal Aliens
Weakens Border Controls
Weakens Interior Enforcement
Increases Chain Migration
Increases Foreign Worker Visas
Increases Rewards for Illegal Aliens
Increase Lottery Visas

H.R.4321 (Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity [CIR ASAP] Act of 2009) - is a 677 page compilation of existing bills that would redefine immigration policy in support of open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens. Among numerous provisions, it would:
(show provisions)
Finally, this bill would provide amnesty to almost any illegal alien present as of December 15, 2009 (or anyone who makes that claim) and pays a meager $500 fine. Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

H.R. 3744 (Dairy and Sheep H-2A Visa Enhancement Act) - would allow certain “temporary” or “seasonal” H-2A nonimmigrants to be admitted for three years as a dairy worker or sheepherder. This bill is the same as H.R.1660, but had to be reintroduced when Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.) resigned to become Secretary of the Army. Rep. Michael Arcuri (D-N.Y.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

H.R. 3687 - would replace the current visa lottery system (55,000 visas currently focused on nationality and minimum work/educational degree requirements) with a system targeted at applicants with advanced degrees. Specifically, the program would include "qualified immigrants who hold a masters or doctorate degree in the life sciences, the physical sciences, mathematics, technology, or engineering. The end result would be more high-tech and other highly educated workers, possibly in job areas not traditionally affected by H-1B visas. This bill does not affect overall immigration numbers. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
No Cosponsors

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

H.R.2709 (Reuniting Families Act) - would “recapture unused employment-based visas” and “unused family -sponsored immigrant visas” between fiscal years 1992 and 2007 and establish a formula for calculating the number of “unused visas” (even though visas not allocated in a certain category in any given year are made available for other categories, so there really is no such thing as an "unused" visa). The result of this “recapture” is a backdoor immigration increase amounting to thousands of visas a year. Furthermore, this bill would expand chain migration by redefining "immediate relatives" and allowing eligibility for citizens or lawful permanent residents. In addition, it would expand chain migration by increasing the number of adult married children, adult unmarried children, and brothers and sisters of naturalized citizens.

The legislation would also:
  • Increase the proportion of family-sponsored or employment-based immigrants from a single foreign nation from 7% to 10%.
  • Allow aliens between the ages of 18-21 to overstay their visas without penalty.
  • Allow aliens who have previously been deported from the United States to be readmitted if they fit the new "immediate relative" definition of a legal permanent resident, even if they were previously deported for a criminal offense.
  • Open the door to fraud by allowing the fiancée or fiancé of an alien and the fiancée or fiancé’s children to enter like a married family
  • Re-open closed immigration cases to accommodate the new definitions of “immediate relatives”.
  • Increase chain immigration by allowing visas for the spouse, parents, and children of a deceased LPR.
Finally, this legislation includes the Uniting American Families Act, which would open the door for fraud and intensify chain migration by creating a “permanent partner” nonimmigrant class for certain qualified aliens. The permanent partners: would have to be in a “committed, intimate relationship” (over age 18) with a goal of lifelong commitment; cannot be married or in a permanent partnership with any other individual; would have to be financially interdependent; must not have a first, second, or third-degree blood relation to each other; and must be unable to contract a marriage recognized under federal immigration law. Please see H.R.1024 for the bill’s stand alone language in the House of Representatives. Also, view Roy Beck’s testimony about the Senate bill (S.424) during a June 3, 2009 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

H.R. 1934 (American Job and Seasonal Business Preservation Act) - would allow an alien to return as an H-2B nonimmigrant worker in 2009 without counting against the annual 66,000 cap if they used an H-2B visa in 2006, 2007, or 2008 (i.e., potentially tripling the number of H-2Bs in the U.S. for 2009). Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-Md.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

H.R. 1791 (Stopping Trained in America Ph.D.s from Leaving the Economy [STAPLE] Act of 2009) - would exempt aliens who earn a Ph.D degree in math, science, technology, or engineering at a United States institution from the numerical limitations on H-1B nonimmigrants. Specifically, this legislation would offer permanent residence status to doctors, teachers, and engineers, driving down wages and creating undue competition for high-skilled American workers. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

H.R. 1660 (Dairy and Sheep H-2A Visa Enhancement Act) - would allow certain “temporary” or “seasonal” H-2A nonimmigrants to be admitted for three years as a dairy worker or sheepherder. Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

H.R.1136 (Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2009) - would allow an alien to return as an H-2B nonimmigrant worker without counting against the annual 66,000 cap if they have used an H-2B visa during one of the three previous fiscal years (i.e., potentially tripling the number of H-2Bs in the U.S. at one time). In addition, this legislation would be effective as if enacted on December 1, 2008. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

H.R. 1127 - would delay the sunset for certain R-1 visas, including non-minister religious professionals and members of certain organizations affiliated with a religious institution, from March 6, 2009 to September 30, 2009. In addition, this legislation would extend the waiver (until September 30, 2009) that allows foreign medical graduates to stay in the United States. Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs) who reside and are employed in the United States on a J-1 Visa generally are required to return to their home country for two years as a prerequisite for applying for permanent residency or an H-1B Visa. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
No cosponsors
Passed the House of Representatives by voice vote on 3/4/2009
Passed the Senate by unanimous consent on 3/11/2009
Signed into law on 3/20/2009

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

H.R. 1001 (Nursing Relief Act of 2009) - would create a “W” nonimmigrant visa category for aliens to enter the United States and work as professional nurses. While this legislation would initially cap the visas at 50,000 a year, if that cap is ever met, the following year’s cap would be increased by 20 percent. On the contrary, if the cap is not reached, there is no reduction. Furthermore, this legislation would exempt a nonimmigrant’s spouse and children and certain nonimmigrants working in designated “health professional shortage areas” from the annual cap. Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

H.R.264 (Save America Comprehensive Immigration Act of 2009) - would eliminate the H-1B classification for fashion models and instead assign fashion models with “distinguished merit” a temporary “O” visa. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) is the bill's main sponsor.
No Cosponsors

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

H.R. 246 - would exempt elementary and secondary schools from paying H-1B visa filing fees. Considering the limited budgets of schools, this legislation could encourage more visa petitions and wage competition for teachers. Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) is the bill's main sponsor.
No Cosponsors

SENATE BILLS

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

S.3858 (H-2A Improvement Act) - would allow certain “temporary” or “seasonal” H-2A nonimmigrants to be admitted for three years as a dairy worker or sheepherder. Furthermore, unlike similar legislation in the House of Representatives, H.R.1660 and H.R.3744, this version would outline a path for the worker to adjust their status to Lawful Permanent Resident if they stay in the H-2A program for 33 months. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

S.3029 (StartUp Visa Act of 2010) - would create a new unlimited visa category that would leverage visas and permanent residency in exchange for capital investment ($50,000 to $10 million under certain conditions) in the United States over a 2 to 3 year period of time. The idea of this legislation is to stimulate foreign investment, boost tax revenue, and aid job growth (specifies employment other than the immigrant’s spouse, sons, or daughters). However, the net effect increases the number of foreign workers and upholds a system like EB-5 where wealthy foreigners can buy their way into U.S. residency. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

Decrease Foreign Worker Visas

S.2910 (Increasing American Wages and Benefits Act of 2010) - would strengthen federal labor laws regarding H-2B nonagricultural temporary workers. Specifically, it would direct the Secretary of Labor to enforce labor laws for H-2B nonagricultural temporary workers and prohibit H-2B workers from entering the United States until the Secretary certifies that prevailing wages will be paid to foreign and U.S. workers. Furthermore, it specifies that employers must make a concerted effort to recruit U.S. workers prior to filing for admission of H-2B workers. Finally, the bill includes Indentured Servitude Abolition Act, which requires foreign labor contractors and employers to inform foreign workers of specified employment terms and conditions at the time of recruitment and prohibits recruitment fees. In other words, this legislation makes it more difficult for businesses to import H-2B foreign workers and reduces incentives to hire them. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
No Cosponsors

Decrease Foreign Worker Visas

S.2804 (Employ America Act) - would require an employer to certify with the Department of Labor that they have not and will not lay off a large number of employees in order to employ foreign workers. Notice of a mass layoff within a 12 month period would result in the expiration of the employer’s foreign worker visas. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

Decrease Foreign Worker Visas

S.887 (H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2009) - would update and improve the H-1B and L-1 visa process, making it more difficult for employers to import foreign workers without making a full attempt to hire an American employee. More specifically, the legislation would: revise wage determination requirements; require Internet posting of employment positions; lengthen U.S. worker displacement protections; prohibit an employer from advertising a position available only to H-1B nonimmigrants; limit the number of H-1B and L-1 employees that an employer of 50 or more workers in the United States may hire; direct the Department of Labor (DOL) to conduct annual audits of companies with large numbers of H-1B workers; increase employer penalties; provide for information sharing between the DOL and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services regarding employer noncompliance; and would authorize the DOL to hire 200 additional employees to administer H-1B programs. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

S.628 (Conrad State 30 Improvement Act) - would make the J-1 visa waiver program permanent. This would allow foreign medical graduates to stay in the United States after completing their training. Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs) who reside and are employed in the United States on a J-1 Visa generally are required to return to their home country for two years as a prerequisite for applying for permanent residency or an H-1B Visa. Designed to address medical shortfalls in rural areas, this legislation would allow 30 individuals per state to remain in the United States without counting against the H-1B visa cap and 6 year visa limitation. Furthermore, the legislation establishes a formula to increase the J-1 visa waiver program if a set number are not used each fiscal year. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

Increase Foreign Worker Visas

S. 388 (Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2009) - would allow an alien to return as an H-2B nonimmigrant worker without counting against the annual 66,000 cap if they have used an H-2B visa during one of the three previous fiscal years (i.e., potentially tripling the number of H-2Bs in the U.S. at one time). In addition, this legislation would be effective as if enacted on December 1, 2008 and includes a three year sunset clause. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) is the bill’s main sponsor.
Cosponsors

There are four forms legislation take:

S. 123 (or H.R. 123) - Bills that must pass both chambers (i.e., House and Senate) and be signed by President to have force of law.

S. Res. 123 (or H.Res. 123) - Measures concerning operation of single chamber; not presented to President for action.

S.J. Res. 123 (or H.J.Res. 123) - Resolutions requiring both chambers’ approval and presentation to President for approval (as with bills [laws enacted by virtue of joint resolutions are not distinguished from laws enacted by bills]); generally used to authorize small appropriations, enact continuing resolutions that provide for government expenditures (absent overarching appropriations law), create commissions or other bodies, or extend legislation already drafted; also used to propose amendments to U.S. Constitution, in which case must be sent to states directly – bypassing Presidential action – for three-fourths’ approval.

S.Con.Res. 123 (or H.Con.Res. 123) - Resolutions requiring both chambers’ approval, but not Presidential action; generally used to address both chambers’ sentiments or deal with issues affecting both chambers.

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