U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch has introduced his latest version of the Immigration Innovation Act or “I-Squared.” The legislation would increase the number of H-1B visas available annually, eliminate the green card backlog for most employment-based immigrants and add new attestation and enforcement mechanisms to the H-1B program. Hatch introduced similar legislation in 2013 and 2015.

The 2018 version of I-Squared would:

  • Raise the annual H-1B cap from 65,000 to 85,000 and institute an “escalator clause” that would enable the issuance of up to 195,000 visas based on H-1B demand.
  • Eliminate the green card backlog by lifting per-country limits and allowing unused green cards from previous years to be reissued.
  • Authorize spouses of H-1B visa holders (H-4) to work if the H-1B holder has a pending or approved labor certification or immigrant petition.
  • Permit “dual intent” for foreign students so that employers can start the green card process while the student is still in school or working pursuant to Optional Practical Training.
  • Allow employees who have an approved labor certification or immigrant petition to change jobs or employers without losing their place in line for a green card.
  • Increase H-1B and green card application fees to fund education and training programs for U.S. STEM students and workers.
  • Provide a 60-day period for H-1B workers who lose their job to obtain H-1B status through another employer.

BAL has prepared a one-page summary and an analysis of the I-Squared bill.

BAL Analysis: Business coalitions have expressed support for the bill and view it as a positive development for high-skilled immigration. BAL is working closely with the legislators sponsoring this bill and is monitoring all legislative developments in Congress. BAL will continue to provide updates as additional information becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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