On January 13, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced the Immigration Innovation (“I-Squared”) Act of 2015.

 

The Act would create a much-needed overhaul of our broken legal immigration system. It would dramatically raise the H-1B cap, and would provide much-needed reforms of the employment-based preference system for green cards. It would also raise the per-country cap for family-based green cards.

What follows is a brief summary of the I-Squared Act.

Temporary Visas

Raise the general H-1B cap from 65,000 to 115,000

Allow the cap to go up (but not above 195,000) within any fiscal year where early filings exceed cap and require the cap to go down in a following fiscal year (but not below 115,000) if usage at the end of any fiscal year is below that particular year’s cap

Remove the 20,000 limit for the Masters’ cap

Reform fees on H-1B visas and employment-based green cards; use money from these fees to fund a grant program to promote STEM education and worker retraining to be administered by the states

Grant employment authorization for H-4 visa holders

Establish a grace period during which foreign workers can change jobs and not be out of status and restore visa revalidation for E, H, L, O, and P visas

Allow dual intent for foreign students at US universities

Green Cards

Enable the recapture of green card numbers that were approved by Congress in previous years but were not used, and continue this policy going forward through the roll-over of unused green cards in future fiscal years to the following fiscal year.

Exempt certain categories of persons from the employment-based green card cap:
Dependents of employment-based immigrant visa recipients
US STEM advance degree holders
Persons of extraordinary ability
Outstanding professors and researchers

Eliminates per-country limits for employment-based green cards

Increases per-country limits for family-based green cards from 7% to 15%

The I-Squared bill would remove many of the artificial limits on obtaining temporary work visas and permanent residence for the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders in science and technology. Providing more visas for these innovators will, in turn, create additional jobs for US workers.