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Lawmakers Introduce Immigration Reform Bill in Congress

file0002068524597.jpgSenator Charles Schumer of New York, joined by a bipartisan group of seven senators, introduced Senate Bill 744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” on April 16, 2013. The bill tries to address a wide range of concerns, ranging from promoting immigrant entrepreneurship to providing for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S. At more than eight hundred pages, the bill covers a far wider range of issues than we could hope to summarize. Various media outlets have created their own summaries of the bill, so here is our list of a few provisions of interest to immigrants, businesses, and families.

Path to Legal Residency

For the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants believed to be living in the United States, the bill provides a means of obtaining work authorization and eventual permanent residence. It makes these benefits conditional, however, on the achievement of certain benchmarks by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Once DHS has submitted a plan for enhanced border security, with a budget of up to $4.5 billion, undocumented immigrants who have been present in the U.S. since December 31, 2011 may pay a fine and obtain provisional immigration status, the ability to obtain parole to travel outside the country, and work authorization. S. 744, § 2101 (113th Cong.) Qualified immigrants may then be able to adjust status to lawful permanent resident.

DREAM Act

The bill would revive portions of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. Id. at § 2103. This offers a means for undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before the age of sixteen to obtain permanent resident status. To qualify, an immigrant must complete at least two years at an American college or university, or serve at least four years in the U.S. Armed Forces.

INVEST Visas

A new category of visa, the Investing in New Venture, Entrepreneurial Startups, and Technologies (INVEST) visa, would be available to immigrant entrepreneurs. Id. at § 4801 et seq. A nonimmigrant INVEST visa would be available to individuals who can show that their business entity, formed in the U.S., has investment commitments for at least $100,000 from venture capital firms or other qualified investors, or has created at least three jobs during the previous two years and made at least $250,000 in annual domestic revenue. The bill would make up to 10,000 INVEST immigrant visas available to individuals who have been in the U.S. as nonimmigrants for at least two years and have met even higher benchmarks for investments, job creation, and revenues.

“Blue Card” for Agricultural Workers

Agricultural workers may qualify for a new form of conditional residence known as a “blue card.” Id. at § 2211 et seq. The blue card would be available to immigrants who, between December 31, 2010 and December 31, 2012, performed agricultural work for at least 575 hours or one hundred full work days. After at least five years, blue card holders who meet additional requirements may apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence.

W Nonimmigrant Visas

A new category of nonimmigrant visa, known as the W visa, would be available to workers in low-wage occupations. Id. at § 4701 et seq. The bill would establish the Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to set annual caps for W visas based on labor shortages and other economic indicators.

The immigration attorneys of Samuel C. Berger, P.C. represent immigrants and prospective immigrants who live in, or wish to move to, New York and New Jersey. We help immigrants obtain visas and green cards through family or employment, and we help families and businesses petition on behalf of immigrant loved ones or employees. Contact us today online or at (212) 380-8117 to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our legal team.

More Blog Posts:

Bipartisan Proposal for Comprehensive Immigration Reform Includes New Employment-Based Green Card Opportunities, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, February 7, 2013
Inaugural Address Includes Call for Immigration Reform to Attract More Workers in High-Tech Fields, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, January 28, 2013
New White House Immigration Policy Offers Opportunities and Risks for Young Undocumented Immigrants, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, June 21, 2012
Photo credit: chelle from morguefile.com.