The Immigration Innovation Act introduced by a bipartisan group of four senators, including Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) seeks major changes to immigration laws, which remain unchanged since 1986.
The bill, named the Immigration Innovation Act, would increase the maximum number of STEM visas available to foreign citizens to 115,000 from 65,000. The cap would be adjustable based on market demand.
What does it mean for International Medical Graduates?
If you are interviewing at a university hospital, a GME program at a not for profit hospital or community hospital affiliated to a university then you likely fall outside of the H1b cap. This cap at present is set at 65,000. USCIS has made provisions to keep some petitions exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption. Unless otherwise exempt from the cap, petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries who have obtained a U.S. master’s degree or higher will be counted against the regular cap once USCIS has received sufficient petitions to reach the advanced degree.
Medical Residents are considered employed workers and not trainees
Residents who pass step 3 can apply for H1B visa as this allows for the hospital to petition your case as a worker and not as a “trainee”. Prior to passing USMLE step 3, the institution cannot petition your case as a worker and thus you have to obtain a J1 visa from ECFMG. Thus residents are regarded as “H-1B workers” and are cap exempt when petitioned for or employed at an institution of higher education or its affiliated or related nonprofit entities or a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization. Thus they are are not subject to this numerical cap.
For all else, What will it do?
If approved, this act will probably double the number of H1b Visas issued every year, will uncap H1b dependents and in-return put more caps on family-based immigration. It will allow students seeking higher advanced degrees in USA to have dual-intent visas for studying later seeking future in USA. The bill also increases visa fees attached to H1b category.
The Text of The Bill
Sen. Hatch’s office released the following summary of the “Immigration Innovation Act of 2013.”
Employment-Based Nonimmigrant H-1B Visas:
Increase H-1B cap from 65,000 to 115,000.
Establish a market-based H-1B escalator, so that the cap can adjust — up or down — to the demands of the economy (includes a 300,000 ceiling on the ability of the escalator to move).
- If the cap is hit in the first 45 days when petitions may be filed, an additional 20,000 H-1B visas will be made available immediately.
- If the cap is hit in the first 60 days when petitions may be filed, an additional 15,000 H-1B visas will be made available immediately.
- If the cap is hit in the first 90 days when petitions may be filed, an additional 10,000 H-1B visas will be made available immediately.
- If the cap is hit during the 185-day period ending on the 275th day on which petitions may be filed, and additional 5,000 H-1B will be made available immediately.
- Uncap the existing U.S. advanced degree exemption (currently limited to 20,000 per year). Authorize employment for dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders.
Increase portability of high skilled foreign workers by:
- Removing impediments and costs of changing employers;
- Establishing a clear transition period for foreign workers as they change jobs; and,
- Restoring visa revalidation for E, H, L, O, and P nonimmigrant visa categories
Allow dual intent for foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities to provide the certainty they need to ensure their future in the United States
Immigrant Visas and Green Cards
Enable the recapture of green card numbers that were approved by Congress in previous years but were not used
Exempt certain categories of persons from the employment-based green card cap:
- Dependents of employment-based immigrant visa recipients
- U.S. STEM advance degree holders
- Persons with extraordinary ability
- Outstanding professors and researchers
Provide for the roll-over of unused employment-based immigrant visa numbers to the following fiscal year so future visas are not lost due to bureaucratic delays
Eliminate annual per-country limits for employment based visa petitioners and adjust per-country caps for family-based immigrant visas
U.S. STEM Education & Worker Retraining Initiative
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.