With weeks left in the second session of Congress, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) released his Senate Judiciary Committee hold July 11 on H.R. 3012, the bill also known as the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act.
Introduced to the Senate in September by a handful of Republican and Democrats, the bill will now have a chance to be heard on the Senate floor. It passed the House overwhelmingly in November with a vote of 389 to 15.
H.R. 3012 would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate the per-country quota for employment-based immigrants and would increase the per-country quota for family-sponsored immigrants, allowing high-skilled immigrants from larger countries, such as China and India, to obtain visas with shorter wait times. This would not, however, increase the number of visas issued per year.*
As we reported in February, the tech industry has rallied around support for this bill.
“America is bleeding competitiveness right now, because our flawed immigration policies – especially those advocated by Senator Grassley are closing the doors on skilled foreigners,” Vivek Wadhwa, a regular commenter on the industry, told Silicon Prairie News at that time. “These policies are causing these job-creating immigrants to return home to countries like China and India – which is making those countries more competitive and us weaker.”
Grassley (above) said he was holding the bill in committee due to concerns about Visa fraud. Grassley said he released his hold because a compromise was reached with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security.
“There is agreement to include in H.R. 3012 provisions that give greater authority to program overseers to investigate visa fraud and abuse,” Grassley said in a press release July 11. “Specifically, there will be language authorizing the Department of Labor to better review labor condition applications and investigate fraud and misrepresentation by employers. There’s also agreement to include a provision allowing the federal government to do annual compliance audits of employers who bring in foreign workers through the H-1B visa program.”
The bill now has just 12 days left to pass the Senate or it will be held until next year.
*Update – Added statement: The number of visas issued per year would not increase with H.R 3012.
Credits: Photo of Grassley from Grassley’s Facebook.