A bipartisan group of Senators re-introduced the I-Squared Act today. The bill would make a number of welcome improvements to the skilled worker immigration system. Senator Hatch (R-UT) is again the lead sponsor with Senators Klobuchar (D-MN), Rubio (R-FL), Coons (D-DE), Flake (R-AZ) and Blumenthal (D-CT) joining him. I’ve compared the bill to the 2013 version and they are pretty similar with a couple of important exceptions. First, the 2013 version raised the H-1B base cap to 115,000 and had market driven formulae to raise the cap to as high as 300,000. The 2015 version limits the upper cap to 195,000.
The section of the bill barring USCIS from denying H-1B and L-1 extensions absent evidence of a material error or unknown information in the first adjudication or a substantial change in circumstances since the earlier filing has been expanded to now include Department of State adjudications.
There’s also a new provision that appears to require the State Department to consider an employment-based preference category current until all visas in a given year are issued. This essentially would institutionalize what happened in 2007 when the State Department made all employment-based categories current in order to pressure USCIS to adjudicate all the applications it can. This will be a great relief to people who often find themselves waiting years to apply for adjustment of status until visa numbers are current.