Summer recess for both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives will soon begin, and both legislative bodies will not reconvene until after Labor Day. In the interim, immigration reform and other critical matters remain in the forefront of this country’s collective conscience. Comprehensive immigration reform measures must be viewed through the eyes of the millions of people who are honestly seeking a better life rather than through the eyes of those with myopic political lenses.
America’s immigration system must be fixed so that it meets the needs of families, employers, workers, vulnerable populations, and our nation’s economy. While a comprehensive Congressional solution is the desired goal, there are broad categories of administrative changes that could improve our existing legal immigration system. Through collaborative efforts of Congress, President Obama, and the Federal offices, departments and agencies that comprise the legal immigration system, these are measures that could be taken to streamline and improve the immigrant and non-immigrant visa processing system.
- Repeal the three- and ten-year bar thereby eliminating the Catch-22 inherent in obtaining a green card or any type of lawful status. Thousands of people who qualify for green cards based on their relationships to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent resident relatives leave the U.S. to obtain their green card and are subject to an unfortunate Catch 22. Under current law, they must leave the U.S. to apply for their green card abroad, often without the knowledge of a definitive outcome. Furthermore, as soon as they leave, they are often immediately barred from re-entering the U.S. for three or ten years under a current process that exacerbates the uncertainties.
- Lift the cap on H-1B visas. H-1B visa requests outstrip supply usually in a week or less. U.S. businesses say H-1B workers fill positions for which there are insufficient numbers of qualified American applicants. The little-understood limits on the number of H-1B’s issued annually jeopardize strategic hiring practices, leaving recruitment to pure chance. This puts U.S. businesses at a serious disadvantage when recruiting for highly skilled foreign talent.
- Increase visa numbers for unskilled foreign workers who are more apt to undertake jobs that are not being filled by U.S. laborers.
- Modernize and streamline PERM [Program Electronic Review Management] for Permanent Labor adjudications.
- Further explore visa options for entrepreneur and real estate retiree visas. If an entrepreneur visa were created, those who could verify that their start-up company would secure a specific amount of venture capital investment and would create a certain number of jobs might qualify. The real estate retiree visa could allow people 55 and older who buy U.S. homes and have appropriate health care insurance, to stay in this country. Other conditions would need to be met.
“We are a nation that feels strongly about our families, our community, our country and the plight of others who are less fortunate. We are struggling with ways to assist those who are impacted by misfortunes and misdeeds in their country of birth. Inaction is unacceptable. Meaningful reform will require an unwavering commitment from all involved and unbridled optimism that this is an attainable goal,” said Attorney Linda Osberg-Braun.