The I-Squared Act of 2013January 31, 2013
by Matt Meltzer, VISANOW Immigration Attorney
The proposed I-Squared legislation (Immigration Innovation Act of 2013) makes substantial and necessary changes to our H-1B cap system.
Currently, the U.S. government allows for a limited number of workers to be sponsored for H-1B employment every year. H-1B visas are available for individuals with Bachelor’s degrees performing work in positions that require at least a Bachelor’s degree for employment. The U.S. government currently limits the number of new H-1B visas to 65,000, with an additional 20,000 available for individuals who graduated with a Master’s degree from a U.S. college or university.
I-Squared would raise the cap to 115,000 – and potentially up to 300,000 based on additional clauses – new H-1B cap spaces available every year. In addition, I-Squared would uncap the advanced degree exemption for employees with an advanced degree from a U.S. college or university.
These changes will make business and employment decisions substantially easier for U.S. employers and will allow more talented foreign workers to enter the U.S. U.S. employers have filled all 85,000 H-1B cap positions over the past several years. In fact, the H-1B quota was filled in approximately two months in 2012. By allocating more H-1B numbers, U.S. employers would benefit in the following ways:
- Greater ease in hiring necessary workers at all times of year, rather than only at certain government-designated calendric periods.
- Diminishes the need to plan for hiring for certain high-skill positions as much as a year in advance.
- Allows U.S. employers to employ more high-skilled employees in the U.S. rather than abroad.
- Retains more high-skill workers, especially American-educated workers, in the United States, rather than suffering “brain drain” by losing these workers to foreign employers and subsequently competing against American companies.
The proposed I-Squared legislation also makes substantive changes to the employment-based green card process. The most important proposal is to eliminate annual per-country limits for employment based visa petitioners. Currently, no more than 7% of green cards are allocated to natives of any particular country, regardless of the foreign country’s population. Therefore, in theory Liechtenstein and India are allocated the same number of green cards per year. The proposed change will radically impact the lives of individuals from the countries that currently exceed this 7% threshold: India, Mexico, Philippines, and China. Currently, certain workers from India must wait over a decade to get their green cards. This change will also make the U.S. a more attractive place to work, as talented employees know they will be able to settle their families here with greater ease.
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