As discussed yesterday, a new immigration bill was expected to be unveiled today. With the tragedy that unfolded yesterday in Boston, the official release of the new Senate immigration reform legislation won’t happen until later in the week, but we know some more of the details of the proposal thanks to information provided to the Wall Street Journal and Associated Press Reporters.
The bill is to be titled the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. It will have provisions for border security, a path to citizenship for those already here, and reforms for both the high and low skilled workers visa programs.
As the name implies, the first goal outlined in the bill will be border security. That is defined as 100% surveillance of the border and 90% of crossing attempts turned away or captured. If this goal is not met within a specified period of time, a commission made up of state the border state representatives will make recommendations to achieve that goal.
For those workers here prior to December 31, 2011 with few misdemeanors and no felony record, there will be a newly created transitional status where the worker can continue to work. These workers will not be eligible for federal benefit programs. IF certain border security provisions are met, after 10 yrs (5yrs for ag workers), the provisional worker could apply for green card status and then ultimately for citizenship. Provisional workers will pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $2000 in penalties and fees with additional processing fees yet to be determined.
Changes to the immigration visa programs are not insignificant either. The whole program had been based on family ties. It will not be more of a skill and talent based visa program. It will uncap some very specialized categories like artists, athletes, multi-national CEO’s etc. It will raise the cap on some such as high skilled technical industry workers and establish a commission to set the cap each year following a transitional period during which the cap will be raised from 65,000 to 200,000.
The details of the ag provisions were not detailed in todays leaked information other than to say that the provisional period for ag workers will only be 5 yrs instead of the 10 yrs for other workers. It puts a cap (120,000 workers although that number has not been consistently reported) on the number of new workers allowed in on the 3yr ag worker visa and eliminates the uncapped H2A program.
There are apparently also provisions for new programs for entrepreneurs, as well as construction workers. A lot of these new programs and provisions all hinge on the border security program and an employer based tracking system to monitor the work eligibility status of all workers (read expanded, mandatory EVerify type program).
We look forward to the official unveiling later this week. Stay tuned.