On Feb 27, 2020, Senator Lee circulated a new version of The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (HR.1044 / S.386) bill among the cosponsors of this bill. This version backpedals from the Durbin-Lee agreement. Surprisingly, it seems that no consultation was done with Senator Durbin which is not customary in the US Senate. According to multiple sources, Senator Lee will try to pass this version on the US Senate floor soon.
What changes does this version offer?
- The no-harm clause is removed. The bill no longer guarantees the availability of green cards for those with an approved immigration petition (I-140) prior to the enactment of the bill.
- Early-filing is delayed for two years. Beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigration petitions may file the adjustment of status only if two years have elapsed from their approved petition (if visa numbers are not available) within a 9-year period and receive work authorization and travel documents.
- Protections for the outsourcing companies are postponed. Employers with more than 50 percent of their employees on H-1B or L1 will not be able to sponsor anymore H-1B workers. However, the effective date of this provision is changed to “the date that is three years after the date of enactment of this Act”.
- The transition period is extended to 9 years, with some additional visas allocated to nationals other than India and China, however, this additional visa does not compensate for the number of visas removed by the removal of the no-harm provision.
All of Us continues to oppose the bill S.386 as it does not fundamentally solve the problem but spreads it to all immigrants around the world. Still, there are some interesting points about these modifications that are worthy of being mentioned:
- The addition of the no-harm clause after a decade of unsuccessful attempts was to sugar-coat S.386 and pass it in the House of Representatives with the following argument: this bill does not affect immigrants already in the line (i.e. those with approved immigration petition). Now it does! Hopefully, congress recognizes this significant change. Those with approved petitions will immediately find themselves in a decades-long waiting line after the bill’s effective date.
- The 50/50 limit on H-1B employees was requested by Sen. Durbin to encourage domestic hiring and would ONLY target outsourcing companies that employ a high percentage of H-1B workers. The majority of these companies are IT Consulting Companies ( suspected of H-1B abuse), not Microsoft, Google or any major US company. Hence delaying this provision is clearly put in place to protect the interests of outsourcing companies and trade associations like NASSCOM. The new S.386 proposed by Sen. Mike Lee can be accurately dubbed the NASSCOM protection bill.