Gang of Eight to Release Immigration Plan

April 10, 2013

pic-everify-immigrationA bipartisan group of senators negotiating a compromise immigration reform plan –– the so-called gang of eight –– is expected to release its plan within the week.  The eight senators are Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).  The plan will then be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is expected to act reasonably quickly and report out a comprehensive immigration reform bill to be considered by the full Senate.  A group similar to the Senate gang of eight is developing a plan in the House.

Nothing has been released and the following information about the gang of eight plan is tentative. It appears that rather than increasing the H-2B visa quotas (for temporary workers), a new temporary employment visa (the W visa) would be created.  This would be subject to various requirements and phased-in, and it’s estimated that within 5 years, as many as 200,000 new visas may be available.  However, construction visas would reportedly be limited to 15,000.

The H-1B visa quotas would not be formally increased but various temporary visas will be issued and not counted against the quota.  Notably, new visas would be issued to students graduating from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields (STEM fields).  The Department of Homeland Security rather than the Department of Labor would manage this program.

E-Verify would become mandatory for all employers, and the requirement would be phased-in over time.  NSBA will be working to ensure that this phase-in is coupled with a requirement that the system have higher accuracy and that employer penalties are reasonable.  In addition, NSBA is seeking to require that database errors be corrected within a reasonable time.

Family-based and diversity lottery visas would be reduced and replaced by more merit-based visas, including immigrant entrepreneur visas.

A new immigration status would be created called a Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI).  Persons currently in the U.S. illegally could apply for this status over the next two years.  Those approved would then remain in the RPI status for 10 years.  Persons holding RPI status could lawfully work in the U.S. After 10 years, they could apply for permanent resident status (i.e. for a green card).  After three additional years, they could apply for citizenship.

Last week, NSBA sent a letter to Congress urging their support of key small-business provisions in any broad immigration reform proposal. Please click here to read the letter.

Also last week, NSBA released the 2013 Workforce and Immigration Survey which provided detailed insight on how immigration issues impact small business. Please click here to view the survey.

Please take a few moments TODAY to tell your lawmakers to support pro-small-business immigration reform.