While not quite as comprehensive as some advocates had hoped, Biden’s bill actually covers quite a bit of ground, including offering a “roadmap” to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, suggesting reforms to both employment- and family-based immigration, protecting American borders, and some innovative issues relating to improving options for employment based immigration.
You can read AILA’s lengthy coverage of the entire bill here. Below, we’re going to go into a bit more depth on the proposals specific to employment-based immigration.
To shrink the backlogs many hopeful immigrants must deal with, Biden’s bill would:
- Make Ph.D. graduates in engineering, math, science, and technology exempt from the green card quota
- Make any beneficiaries of immigrant visa petitions that have been approved but who have been kept waiting for a green car for over 10 years exempt from quotas.
- Raise the annual limit of employment-based immigrant visas from 140,000 to 170,000
- Recapture visa numbers that were not used in past years
- Eliminate the per-country caps gradually
During times of high unemployment in the U.S., the bill would allow for temporary employment-based (EB IV) decreases. Specifically, it gives DHS the ability to lower how many second and third preference employment-based green cards are awarded when certain sectors or areas are facing high levels of unemployment.
Prioritizing Wage-Based Visas
One provision in the bill gives DHS authorization to prioritize H-1B visas (as well as other types of nonimmigrant work visas, potentially) based on what wage the employer is offering to pay.
Expanding H-1B Eligibility
For I-140 beneficiaries.
More protections for those “Aging Out”
Certain children in H-4 going through the green process will be protected from aging out.
Those in F-1, H-1B, L-1, and O-1 status who have had a I-140 petition pending for more than a year or who possess a labor certification are eligible for one-year status extensions.
Pilot Program for Regional Economic Development
Under this pilot program, as many as 10,000 additional immigrants may be admitted annually if their work is found to be “essential” to the economic development of the community.
More Penalties for Violations of Labor Laws
Employers who violate local, state, or federal laws in regards to using unauthorized workers will face an extra civil penalty. Additionally, DHS and the Labor Department will be required to offer recommendations to:
- Protect foreign workers who are the victim of labor violations
- Improve the process of verifying employment eligibility
As you can see, there are quite a few big changes that will be coming if this bill becomes law.