Jacob Sapochnick
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Attorney Talk : High Skilled Immigration Reform in Senate’s Bill

U.S. Senate members started discussing about Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill proposed by Senate’s Gang of 8.

You may read the summary of comprehensive immigration reform bill which contains major changes to High skilled legal immigration, H1B Visa, L1 Visa, Work Authorization, Start-up Visa, etc.

I want to provide a complete overview about the proposed bill S.744 in U.S. Senate. So, sent email to nation’s Top Immigration Attorney’s with two questions. One of the question is –

Which provision of the Senate’s Bill S.744 will have the most impact on legal immigration (High Skilled)?

I’m publishing  the answers received so far I will be updating this blog post, as I hear from other attorney’s about their view on Immigration Reform, Green Card and High Skilled immigration provisions in the proposed bill.


Greg SiskindGreg Siskind (www.visalaw.com). Owner at Siskind Susser, PC – Immigration Lawyers.

There are many from which to choose. There are some big changes in family immigration rules, but I’ll focus on the employer side for now. I think one of the most dramatic long term changes will be the introduction of the merit-based point system for green cards which will be a new path to permanent residency that will replace the green card lottery program (though with many more green cards available).

The point system will allow many people to qualify for green cards without having to have their employers acting as sponsors which will provide a new found freedom for many.

Dimo Michailov Dimo Michailov (www.cilawgroup.com). Immigration Attorney at Capitol Immigration Law Group PLLC.

S.744 is extremely large bill and there are many proposals for many different audiences.    Obviously, the biggest impact in terms of volume would be on the 11 million or so undocumented foreign nationals many of whom would be able to obtain the lawful provisional status and obtain work and travel authorization.

Additionally, the changes to the H-1B program are likely to impact a number of folks, especially in the IT staffing industry.

I am actually very pleased to see that the government would start paying more attention to foreign entrepreneurs and investors giving them an option to stay in the US and create job — this provision of S.744 is not talked about very much, but I think it has a great potential for all of the “shadow entrepreneurs” who have to navigate the H-1B system now (with or without success).

Murali BashyamMurali Bashyam  (www.bashyamspiro.com). Managing Partner at Bashyam Spiro LLP – Immigration Law Group).

Many employment and family-based categories have had severe visa availability backlogs for quite some time.  In fact, in certain situations, permanent residency applications can easily take well over a decade.  The Senate Bill (s.744) addresses this issue by exempting derivative family-members, and some physicians and PhD holders, from the annual-limits for employment-based immigration.

The legislation would also allocate additional visa numbers to those foreign students who graduate with advanced degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  These provisions will help clear the backlog and make employment-based permanent residency a faster process for intending immigrants.

The legislation will also have a significant impact on family-based immigration.  Right now, there are visa availability backlogs for Lawful Permanent Residents who want to sponsor their spouse for residency in the US.  Residency processing came sometimes take many years.

On the other hand, spouses of US citizens are classified as ‘immediate relatives’ and are not subject to these visa backlogs.  This bill would redefine ‘immediate relatives’ to include children and spouses of permanent residents, thus removing them from these numerical limitations and residency processing will be much faster, as it should be.

jacob sapochnickJacob Sapochnick  (www.visalawyerblog.com). Law Offices of Jacob J. Sapochnick, Immigration Lawyers.


The merit based system will have the biggest impact on Employment based Immigration. For High Skilled, Exempt the following categories from the quota: EB-1 immigrants, doctoral degree holders, physicians who have completed the foreign residency requirement, and derivatives. Add a new “EB-6” category for certain entrepreneurs.

The bill proposes the creation of a new merit-based visa and points system as a way of legal immigration. Being admitted to the U.S. with a Merit-Based Immigrant Visa means obtaining a lawful permanent resident status (i.e. green card)

Main highlights of the new system:

– Diversity Visa Lottery is eliminated and replaced with Merit-Based Points System

– Merit-Based System is divided into “Track One” and “Track Two” Immigrant Visas

– “Track One” Merit-Based System will allow individuals to qualify for permanent residency (i.e. green card) under the following basic provisions:

  • Awards points specified by the act to applicants based on education, employment experience, exceptional employment record, occupation, length of residence in the U.S., family ties in the U.S., knowledge of English language, etc.
  • The more qualifying factors that earn points the individual has, the more points he/she will earn
  • Individuals with the most points will get the immigrant visas
  • Individuals in Registered Provisional Immigrant Status (RPI) or with a pending or approved immigrant petition in another category are not eligible to obtain permanent resident status under the Track One point system
  • Initially provides for 120,000 immigrant visas based on the point system that may increase in the future and allows for recapture of unused visas

–  “Track Two” Merit-Based System will give lawful permanent residency to

  • individuals lawfully present and authorized for employment in the U.S. for over 10 years
  • beneficiaries of family- and employment-based immigrant petitions pending for five years and filed prior to enactment of the Bill.

tahmina watsonTahmina Watson (www.immigrationlawyersinseattle.com).

The bill for comprehensive immigration reform is overall positive and a great start to negotiations. Almost everything is important but what is most important can differ according to perspective and what affects you. Some of the universally agreed important issues:

  • Status for undocumented people in the form of Registered Provisional Status and Blue Card Status.
  • Border security.
  • Big changes to H1B and L1 visas.
  • New creation of several visas- W visa (temporary worker), Y visa (retiree visa), X-visa (non-immigrant invest visa), EB6 visa (immigrant invest visa).
  • New Creation of a merit-based system.
  • STEM visas.
  • Provisions for physicians.
  • Clearing out the backlog of visas.
  • Changes in family-based categories, including eliminating sibling category.
  • And much more!

Of the above (where everything is indeed important!), in my opinion, the issues that will fundamentally change the current system and have the biggest impact will be the legalization of undocumented people, changes in family-based categories and the new merit-based system.


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Stay tuned for updates on Legal Immigration and Green Card  updates form other top attorney’s.

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  1. so there would be no diversity lottery visa program for 2015? And what about those who have been already selected for 2014 diversity lottery visa program?

  2. Do they have proposed any change in F-1 visa? If yes, Then how it is going to affect the prospective students. Your information on this will be helpful.

    Thank you.

  3. I think Merit Bases System is a good approach. Both, the Track 1 & 2 are good options. I hope they will also give greencard to the folks who were in the US legally for 10+ yrs.

    ** T & C APPLY **

      1. So the reform effectively legalizes the illegal immigrants immediately, while legal immigrants who have played by the rules will still be made to jump through hoops before they can enjoy similar benefits. The LPR status will allow the illegal immigrants who can prove that they were in the country as of 12/31/2011 to quit their jobs, travel or move to another state etc… while a legal immigrant say someone who has been here on a student visa since 2010 will still need to have their employer file for a green card application and then hope that the provisions to reduce backlog in the bill will be favorable. In the meantime if the legal immigrant loses his job he/she has no recourse. They’ll have the 60 days to find a new job, but will need to restart GC process. Even the merit based system doesn’t start until the 5th year. How is this fair to legal immigrants?

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