You’ve heard time and again the term “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” or “CIR” among those who discuss it often. But while for most, the CIR discussion of 11 million undocumented foreign nationals is about those low on education and opportunity, the story of immigration reform has perhaps just as much to do with entrepreneurship, innovation and employment at our universities and in our cities as anything.
The Immigration Innovation Act aims to strengthen the pipeline for educated STEM talent to stay here, as Technically Baltimore has shared.
After President Obama’s January talk in Las Vegas where he announced a four-part immigration reform proposal, eight U.S. senators released a “Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” which included:
- Creating a path to U.S. Citizenship for unauthorized immigrants already in the United States
- Improving the legal immigration system and attracting the world’s best and brightest
- Strong employment verification
- Admitting new workers and protecting workers’ rights
But the framework does not provide specific details outlining how to improve the legal immigration system or how to attract the best and the brightest. Enter the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013. Its focus includes attracting and retaining innovation and technical talent from around the world, to feed the country’s entrepreneurship boom.
Released by Senators Hatch (R-UT), Klobuchar (D-MN), Rubio (R-FL), and Coons (D-DE), the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 (S. 169), or “I-Squared,” provides a detailed plan to reform certain areas of importance to highly-skilled immigrants. This proposed law addresses areas related to employment-based, nonimmigrant temporary work H-1B visas, dual intent for students and immigrant visas and green cards.
The changes proposed are significant to students, H-1B holders and their spouses, H-1B seekers, employment-based green card applicants and the employers of H-1 visa holders or employment-based green card applicants.
Below is a summary of some of the proposed changes:
For many, comprehensive immigration reform has become synonymous with talking about the 11 million undocumented foreign nationals living in the shadows. However, CIR may be just as important for others, including:
- H-1B temporary non-immigrant visa holders
- Spouses of H-1B visa holders
- H-1B visa seekers
- U.S. STEM advanced degree holders
- Those with approved PERM and immigrant visa petitions (Form I-140s) who have been unable to file the third and final step in the green card process because of current per-country limits
- Employers who hire H-1 B visa holders or who sponsor foreign nationals for green cards
For some, passage of the Immigration Innovation Act could mean no longer having to wait to file the application for a green card. For example, anyone holding a U.S. STEM advanced degree with an approved PERM application (even if they are from an oversubscribed country such as India) would be able to file the second and third steps in the green card process concurrently.
This is a big deal.
Now we just need to wait and see if Congress will pass “I-Squared,” or if the provisions will become part of a larger CIR bill.
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