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.

Here’s my link to my summary of the bill.

Greg Siskind

Greg Siskind

Greg Siskind is a partner with Siskind Susser, PC - Immigration Lawyers. After graduating from Vanderbilt University, he received his law degree at the University of Chicago. He created the first immigration law web site in 1994 and the first law blog in 1997. He's written four books and currently serves on the board of governors of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. He can be reached by email at gsiskind@visalaw.com.
Greg Siskind
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11 Responses to Siskind Summary: The I-Squared Act of 2015

  1. Anonymous says:

    Good to know this! I am certainly but would like to know that what are the chances of this bill to be converted to law sometime this year?

    • Greg Siskind says:

      I think the chances are better this year than in the last Congress, but it still faces long odds mainly because of a group of House Republicans that are hostile to legal immigration as well as illegal immigration. But let’s see what Speaker Boehner can do.

  2. knight says:

    Do you think all republicans votes are needed? im sure Dem’s would want to support this as well, considering everyone has now reconciled that piece meal immigration is the way to go forward.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Dear Mr Siskind,

    I am an EB-5 immigrant living in the US and if I am interpreting it correctly the new I-Squared Act (if passed) is of paramount interest to me as well as to other employment-based green card holders.

    Title III. Sec 303 of the proposed bill states:
    SEC. 303. ALIENS NOT SUBJECT TO DIRECT NUMERICAL
    LIMITATION.
    (a) IN GENERAL.—Section 201(b)(1) of the Immi- gration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1151(b)(1)) is amended by adding at the end the following:
    ‘‘(F) Aliens who are the spouse or a child of an alien admitted as an employment-based immigrant under section 203(b).

    Is it supposed to mean that if I marry my non-immigrant student visa holder girlfriend if and after the law goes into effect unchanged, she can adjust status immediately? As opposed to current regulations where the only option is the heavily backlogged F2A.
    Or the statue applies only to spouses married to the immigrant before he/she became an LPR?

    Immediate relatives of US citizens, asylees and everyone who doesn’t have a priority date are all listed under this same subsection. What is your opinion?

    Thank you very much for taking the time and considering my issue.

    • Greg Siskind says:

      Unfortunately, it would only matter if the marriage took place before the green card holding spouse got the green card. This change mainly affects how long the waits will be in the employment based categories because spouses and children eat in to the quotas. It wouldn’t really affect the situation you mention.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you. You are probably right. But the language of the statue only states that (1) no numerical limits (2) spouses (3) of aliens admitted under EB. The same wording as the relatives of USCs in INA. It doesn’t say accompanying spouses. I understand that their intention is to allow more EB immigrants by counting only the principal applicant against the quota, but right now the current version of the paragraph applies for any spouse in my understanding. Do you think I should write to my FL senator? He is also a co-sponsor of the bill. Thank you

        • Greg Siskind says:

          There has been language in other immigration bills that would make the spouses of permanent residents immediate relatives under immigration law. That’s what you need and that’s what you should ask of your Senator.

  4. […] Among the bill’s provisions are the following, although we refer readers to Greg Siskind’s detailed summary: […]

  5. […] March 30, 2015/1 Comment/in Blog /by Cyrus Mehta By Gary Endelman and Cyrus D. Mehta In America, the best day of the week has always been tomorrow except, it seems, when it comes to immigration. On April 1, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2016 cap. U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering, and computer programming. The congressionally mandated cap on H-1B visas for FY 2016 is 65,000. The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap. USCIS expects to receive more petitions than the H-1B cap during the first five business days of this year’s program. The agency will monitor the number of petitions received and notify the public when the H-1B cap has been met. If USCIS receives an excess of petitions during the first five business days, the agency will use a lottery system to randomly select the number of petitions required to meet the cap. USCIS will reject all unselected petitions that are subject to the cap as well as any petitions received after the cap has closed. USCIS used the lottery for the FY 2015 program last April. It is anticipated that USCIS will also use the lottery again for the FY 2016. The very existence of the H-1B lottery speaks most eloquently to the economic illiteracy of the current H-1B cap. Perhaps more than any other visa, the H-1B is viewed by those in charge as a problem to be contained, not an asset to be maximized. In a political system that has an almost mystical faith in the market, the inflexibility that characterizes the H-1B cap is eloquent testimony to an absence of imagination and a refusal to let the market set the level of H-1B demand. A few days back, President Obama addressed the SelectUSA Investment Summit, and these were his words: So the bottom line is this:  America is proudly open for business, and we want to make it as simple and as attractive for you to set up shop here as is possible.  That is what this summit is all about.  I hope you take full advantage of the opportunities that are here. These words sound hollow if employers who desire to hire foreign talented workers on the H-1B visas have to depend on a lottery. If an H-1B visa petition is selected, the foreign worker can only start employment on October 1, 2015. If the H-1B visa petition is not selected, the employer has to try again in April 2016, with the hopes that the employee will come on board on October 1, 2016. It is self evident that the cap hinders the ability of a company to hire skilled and talented workers in order to grow and compete in the global economy. The hiring of an H-1B worker does not displace a US worker. In fact, research shows that they result in more jobs for US workers. The notion of a nonsensical quota reminds us of Soviet era central planning, and then to inject a casino style lottery into the process, just rubs salt into an oozing old wound. The lack of flexibility that robs our H-1B policies of any notion of flexibility reflects a bedrock belief, as wrong as it can possibly be, that immigration is only for the benefit of the immigrants. It is about them, we seem to be saying, not about us. Our self-interest is not at stake. Not only is this economically incoherent but it ignores the moral integrity of allowing an employment-based immigration system to function in harmony with the economy that it is supposed to serve. It will not only fail to prepare American workers for the future; it will fail utterly to protect them against the present. That is the most telling indictment of our current H-1B approach, namely it does nothing to benefit those who are presumably its intended beneficiaries. So long as this Maginot line of defense persists, those in charge of H-1B policy will have no incentive to look for anything better. This absurd situation can be remedied quite quickly. The Immigration Innovation Act of 2015 (S. 153) (“I-Squared” Act) was introduced by  Senators Hatch (R-UT), Klobuchar (D-MN), Rubio (R-FL), Coons (D-DE), Flake (R-AZ), and Blumenthal (D-CT). When partisan rancor is the norm in Congress, the I-Squared Act is genuinely bipartisan, and endeavors to provide critical reforms needed in the area of high-skilled immigration. The I-Squared Act will raise H-1B numbers so as to avoid these unnecessary scrambles for the H-1B visa. What is unique is that the H-1B numbers will not be the subject of an arbitrary cap just picked from a hat, but will fluctuate based on actual market demand. The cap will not go above 195, 000, but not below 115,000. In essence, for the first time, the H-1B allotment will be infused with the lubricant of capitalism, rising and falling in concert with the needs of the American economy. Among the bill’s provisions are the following, although we refer readers to Greg Siskind’s detailed summary: […]

  6. […] January 20, 2015/0 Comments/in Blog /by Cyrus Mehta By Gary Endelman and Cyrus D. Mehta The Immigration Innovation Act of 2015 (S. 153) (“I-Squared” Act) was introduced by  Senators Hatch (R-UT), Klobuchar (D-MN), Rubio (R-FL), Coons (D-DE), Flake (R-AZ), and Blumenthal (D-CT). When partisan rancor is the norm in Congress, the I-Squared Act is genuinely bipartisan, and endeavors to provide critical reforms needed in the area of high-skilled immigration. Soon employers will be scrambling again on April 1, 2015 to file their H-1B petitions in the hope that they will be selected in the cap lottery. H-1B numbers will get exhausted six months before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1, 2015. The I-Squared Act will raise H-1B numbers so as to avoid these unnecessary scrambles for the H-1B visa. What is unique is that the H-1B numbers will not be the subject of an arbitrary cap just picked from a hat, but will fluctuate based on actual market demand. The cap will not go above 195, 000, but not below 115,000. Among the bill’s provisions are the following, although we refer readers to Greg Siskind’s detailed summary: […]

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