On 1/13/15, Senators Hatch (R-Utah), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Rubio (R-Fla.), Coons (D-Del.), Flake (R-Ariz.), and Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced the Immigration Innovation (“I-Squared”) Act of 2015 to address many of the critical reform needs in the business immigration context. This bill was first introduced in the 113th Congress.
Some of the key provisions include the following:
- Increasing the H-1B cap from 65,000 to 115,000 and allowing the cap to go up (but not above 195,000) or down (but not below 115,000) depending on actual market demand
- Removing the current 20,000 cap on the U.S. advanced degree exemption for H-1Bs
- Recognizing “dual intent” of foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities which allow them to avoid being penalized for wanting to stay in order to work in the U.S. after graduation
- Providing an exemption for U.S. STEM advanced degree holders, persons with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and dependents of employment-based immigrant visa recipients from the employment-based green card cap (approximately 140,000)
- Establishing a grant program using funds from new fees added to H-1Bs and employment-based green cards for the purpose of promoting STEM education and work-related retraining
- Authorizing work permits for dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders
- Recapturing green card numbers that were approved by Congress in previous years but were not used for the following years
- Eliminating annual per-country limits for employment-based visa petitioners and adjusting per-country caps for family-based immigrant visas
This bipartisan bill addresses many of the critical reforms, which have been needed in the business immigration context. Many provisions of the Act would make positive changes to high-skilled immigration in the U.S.