Bipartisan Immigration Reform Bill Introduced in Senate

The bipartisan Senate “Gang of 8” reached an agreement on comprehensive immigration reform, and introduced a bill (S.744) on April 16. The bill provides a roadmap to citizenship for the 11.5 million undocumented individuals currently living in the shadows, and a new employment-sponsored visa program (W-Visa) for lesser skilled, non-seasonal, and non-agricultural workers.

Undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before December 31, 2011 and have been continually present will be able to apply for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status.

  • At application, they will need to pass a criminal background check and pay taxes, appropriate fees and a $500 fine. RPI status will be valid for six years.
  • At renewal, applicants will be subject to a new background check and employment requirement and pay taxes, appropriate fees and a $500 fine.
  • After 10 years, RPIs will be able to apply for green cards and adjust their status to Legal Permanent Resident (LPR). When they adjust, applicants will be subject to a new background check and an employment requirement; prove they are learning English; demonstrate they are admissible; and pay taxes, appropriate fees and a $1,000 fine.
  • After three years in LPR status, they can become citizens, subject to other requirements including mandatory E-Verify and “back of the line” provisions.

The bill also includes tougher employer sanctions and a renewed commitment to secure the border.

The W-Visa program would provide a limited number of visas during the first four years (20,000 in the first year and 75,000 in the fourth year). After that, the number of visas would increase or decrease based on a number of factors, including the findings of an independent bureau that would survey labor markets by region and industry sector to identify shortages. Wages would be set at a level that would not adversely affect the wages of U.S. workers. There would be no more than 200,000 W Visas in any year. Workers will not be tied to a single employer and will be able to self-petition for citizenship. The bill also makes changes to the H-1B, H-2B and H-2A programs.

After two days of hearings, on April 19 and April 22, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin the complicated task of marking up the 800-plus page bill, a process that is expected to take most of May.

More information:

Immigration Bill Summary

Resources for the Congressional Recess