Yesterday US Immigration Bill was approved, and it is expected to have far reaching impact on illegal immigrants living in the US. The new immigration bill has many new provisions, which include change in various Visa granting policies, which includes H1B visas as well.
The bill passed with 13 to 5 vote majority creates a pathway to citizenship for over 11.5 million immigrants. Two biggest changes that have been proposed in the bill opens doors for low-skilled foreign labour to work in US and also increases the numbers for highly skilled foreign workers (like the ones who are on H1B visa.)
Key highlights of the New US Immigration Bill
1) The quota for H1B Visa’s has increased from existing 65000 a year to 110,00 a year. Another 25000 extra H1B visa’s have been set aside for workers with advanced degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths if they are from a US school.
2) The H1B visa cap could be further extended depending on demand and employment rates prevalent at that time in the US.
3) However, companies who have more than 15 percent of skilled workers on H1B visa’s will be subjected to tighter norms as compared to companies less dependent on H1B Visas.
4) The much talked about Startup Visa has been introduced in the new immigration bill for foreign entrepreneurs who are seeking to come to US to start a company.
5) A new Merit Visa has also been introduced (capped at 250,000) that would award points to immigrants based on their education, employment, length of residence in the US. People will maximum points will be awarded these Visas.
6) Immigrants who have extra-ordinary abilities (like international level athletes, MNC executives etc) will be exempted from Green Card limits.
7) Diversity Visa Lottery program has been abolished. 55,000 visa’s were earlier awarded to people from countries which had historically low rate of immigration to the USA.
8) One of the biggest changes that have been bought in the new immigration bill are the provisions for low-skilled workers. The new “W” visa will allow upto 200,000 low skilled workers into the country for jobs in sectors like construction and hospitality.
9) A new Agriculture worker visa program has been introduced that will allow them extra 5 years to apply for green cards, if they stay in same sector.
10) The new immigration bill will not allow US citizens to sponsor their spouses, children’s or siblings as was allowed previously. Now, US citizens will only be allowed to sponsor married sons and daughters who are aged below 31 years.
11) All employers are now needed to implement E-Verify program that electronically verifies their employees’ legal status.
Overall, Indians in the US as well as people who are in India must be quite happy with the provisions made in the new US immigration bill.
Do let us know what you think of these new provisions!