US President Barack Obama has come out with his much-awaited comprehensive immigration reforms that, among other things, will pave way for legalisation of more than 11 million undocumented immigrants.
The reforms, which also propose to eliminate the annual country caps in the employment category, are expected to benefit large number of Indian technocrats and professionals.
In a major policy speech on comprehensive immigration in Las Vegas, Obama urged the Congress to act on his proposals.
“It (immigration) keeps our workforce young, it keeps our country on the cutting edge, and it’s helped build the greatest economic engine the world has ever known. After all, immigrants helped start businesses like Google and Yahoo. They created entire new industries that in turn created new jobs and new prosperity for our citizens,” Obama said.The other key proposals of his “comprehensive” reform plan include “stapling” a green card to the diplomas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), PhD and Masters Degree graduates from qualified US universities who have found employment in the country.
The President also proposed to create a start-up visa for job-creating entrepreneurs.
The proposal allows foreign entrepreneurs, who attract financing or revenue from American investors and customers, to start and grow their businesses in the US, and to remain permanently if their companies grow further, create jobs for American workers, and strengthen the economy.
The proposal removes the backlog for employment-sponsored immigration by eliminating annual country caps and adding additional visas to the system.
Outdated legal immigration programs are reformed to meet current and future demands by exempting certain categories from annual visa limitations, the White House said. Obama also proposed to eliminate existing backlogs in the family-sponsored immigration system by recapturing unused visas and temporarily increasing annual visa numbers.
The proposal also raises existing annual country caps from seven per cent to 15 per cent for the family-sponsored immigration system.
It also treats same-sex units as families by giving US citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa based on permanent relationship with a same-sex partner.
The proposal also revises current unlawful presence bars and provides broader discretion to waive them in cases of hardship.
Furthermore, it authorises employment for dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders, thus meeting a long pending demand.
It also proposes to 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 non-immigrant visa categories. The legislation, if passed by the Congress and signed into law by the US President, will enable the recapture of Green Card numbers that were approved by Congress in previous years but were not used.
It will exempt certain categories of persons from the employment-based Green Card cap, including dependents of employment-based immigrant visa recipients, US STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) advance degree holders, persons with extraordinary ability and outstanding professors and researchers.
The legislation also provides for the roll-over of unused employment-based immigrant visa numbers to the following fiscal year so that future visas are not lost due to bureaucratic delays, and eliminate annual per-country limits for employment based visa petitioners and adjust per-country caps for family-based immigrant visas.
The legislation calls for reforming fees on H-1B visas and employment-based Green Cards and use money from these fees to fund a grant program to promote STEM education and worker.
“Our immigration system needs to be modernized to be more welcoming of highly skilled immigrants and the enormous contributions they can make to our economy and society,” said Senator Rubio.
“This reform is as much about modernising our immigration system as it is about creating jobs. It’ll help us attract more highly skilled workers, which will help our unemployed, underemployed or underpaid workers find better jobs,” he said. Senator Klobuchar called for making the US a front-runner in research and inventions, and said the legislation will envisage norms that will help hold back the talented students in the country.
“We don’t want them (the students) creating the next Medtronic or 3M in India, we want them creating it right here in Minnesota and across America,” he said.
January 30, 2013