By Lisa Behnke & Nicole DeCoursey
The much anticipated Immigration Reform Bill has been put to the backburner since its defeat in the house last spring. It came two votes shy of being passed, and for many hopeful immigrants has become a dream unfulfilled.
Students, who are in the United States on student visas, would have benefited from the Dream Act of 2009. According to the official summary of the Open Congress website, “the amendment to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act of 1996 would ensure eligibility for higher education benefits based on state residence. It would also have authorized the Secretary of Homeland Security to cancel the removal of, and adjust to conditional permanent resident status, an alien who:
1. Entered the United States before his or her 16th birthday and has been present in the United States for at least five years immediately preceding enactment of this Act;
2. is a person of good moral character;
3. is not inadmissible or deportable under specified grounds of Immigration and Nationality Act;
4. At the time of application has been admitted to an institution of higher education or has earned a high school or equivalent diploma;
5. from the age of 16 and older, has never been under a final order of exclusion, deportation, or removal; and
6. Was under age 35 on the date of this Act ‘s enactment. Sets forth the conditions for conditional permanent resident status, including:
(1) Termination of status for violation of this Act; and
(2) Removal of conditional status to permanent status. Authorizes an alien who has satisfied the appropriate requirements prior to enactment of this Act to petition the Secretary for conditional permanent resident status. Provides for:
(1) Exclusive jurisdiction;
(2) Penalties for false application statements;
(4) Fee prohibitions;
(5) Higher education assistance; and
(6) A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report respecting the number of aliens adjusting under this Act.”
Just as important to the reform bill, is the Save America Comprehensive Immigration Act of 2009, which would provide increased protections and eligibility for family-sponsored immigrants. According to the official summary of the Open Congress website, “the amendment would authorize the Secretary to adjust the status of aliens who would otherwise be inadmissible (due to unlawful presence, document fraud, or other specified grounds of inadmissibility) if such aliens have been in the United States for at least five years and meet other requirements.”
The Visa Reform Act of 2009 was also introduced, as part of the reform bill, and would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to revise employers and government provisions regarding H-1B (specialty occupation) and L-1 (intra company transfer) nonimmigrant aliens. An employer would be required to:
1. Revise wage determination requirements;
2. Require internet posting and description of employment positions;
3. Lengthen U.S. worker displacement protection;
4. Apply certain requirements to all H-1B employers rather than only to H-1B dependent employers;
5. Prohibit employer advertising that makes a position available only to, or gives priority to, H-1B non immigrants; and
6. Limits the number of H-1B and L-1 employees that an employer of 50 or more workers in the United States may hire. Revises to the application can be reviewed for provisions and will then get authorized by the Department of Labor (DOL), will be looked over to;
(1) Investigate applications for fraud; and
(2) Conduct H-1B compliance audits. This directs DOL to conduct annual audits of companies with large numbers of H-1B workers and allows them to initiate H-1B employer applications and to investigate them and then can cause increased employer penalties. This information is shared between the DOL and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services regarding employer noncompliance.
With so many parts to the Immigration Reform Bill, it is unlikely Congress will agree upon and pass it any time soon. “If we don’t see something by August at the latest, we won’t see anything passed for a long time,” said Melinda Rubin, a lawyer who specializes in immigration.
For illegal immigrants who hope to see a law passed, the only thing she can suggest is to wait it out a little longer.