US visa and immigration services are likely to change over the next several years as reform proposals make their way through Washington. Although these proposals face a long battle ahead in Congress, the government seems to be united in one aspect: change is coming.
Proposed Changes to U.S. Visa and Immigration Services
There are many proposals already circling the halls of government. While these proposals each have merit, we believe none of the following proposals addresses the overwhelming need for institutional, operational and process reform that will truly improve the U.S. visa and immigration system. Until such a proposal is put forth, there can not truly be any significant immigration reform. Let’s take a look at what is already on the table.
Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform
A group of four Republicans and four Democrats put together a proposal structured around four basic U.S. visa and immigration points.
- A path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants presently living in the United States.
- Adjust the legal system for immigration to help build the U.S. economy and strengthen families.
- Construct an employment verification system that will eventually phase out the hiring of unauthorized workers while preventing identity theft.
- Protect all workers and put a sustainable U.S. visa and immigration process in place to serve the needs of the nation’s workforce.
Our take: The proposal does not deal with process changes or operational changes desperately needed to the system.
White House Immigration Bill
The White House released a draft of their proposed changes to U.S. visa and immigration services, in which they suggest a “Lawful Prospective Immigrant” visa. The visa is aimed at helping illegal immigrants currently living in the United States.
- Eligible illegal immigrants can attain legal permanent resident status within eight years.
- Immigrants must pass a criminal background check, submit biometric information, and pay fees to qualify. Anyone convicted of three or more crimes and that has served a total sentence of 90 days in jail is ineligible.
- The draft also incorporates an increase in funding for border patrol and continued improvement and implementation of the E-Verify system, which helps employers hire legal workers.
- The draft does not address the need for a concrete US visa and immigration system that will deal with the future intake of legal immigrants.
Other legislative reforms to the U.S. visa and immigration system include the promising Immigration Innovation Act, which focuses on keeping talented immigrants from the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the United States and the Startup Act 3.0, which aims to keep foreign entrepreneurs in the United States. We cannot predict what changes will take place or when change will happen, but we are hopeful that the future will bring significant operational and institutional reforms to U.S. immigration and visa services.