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The Immigration State of the Union: Obama Declares "We've Got a System to Fix"

On January 20, 2015, President Obama addressed the nation in the annual State of the Union address. Among the many topics that the president touched upon in his speech was immigration. After more sweeping immigration reform bills died in the U.S. House of Representatives last year, the president vowed to use his executive authority to fix elements of the broken immigration system. In November of 2014, after the mid-term elections gave control of both houses of Congress to the Republicans, the president announced he would issue executive orders addressing immigration issues, including the undocumented immigrant population and the business immigration system. One of the first bills passed by the House in 2015 included provisions that would defund those executive actions. While the Republican-controlled Senate plans to try to pass the House bill in order to move it to the president’s desk, its prospects for overcoming the 60-vote threshold necessary to cut off debate seem slim.

Bipartisan I-Squared Act Introduced to Reform Business Immigration System

On January 13, 2015, 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, a major immigration reform bill addressing the high-skilled and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) immigration programs. Similar to the I-Squared Act of 2013 (S.169) and the high-skilled provisions of the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in 2013 (S.744), the bill raises the allocations for H-1B skilled worker visas and employment-based green cards while forging a middle ground between the more restrictive skilled worker provisions in the 2013 Senate bill and the much higher caps in the 2013 I-Squared Act.

Immigration Legislation and Changes to Watch for in 2015

President Barack Obama’s November 20, 2014, announcement regarding executive actions he will be taking on immigration reform has put into motion a number of changes to U.S. immigration law in 2015 that could be important.

Immigration Spotlight—U.S. ALERT: Updated China/U.S. Reciprocity Agreement Affects Tourist/Student Visas

The United States and China have both reciprocally increased the validity of short-term business and tourist visas to 10 years and the validity of student and exchange visas to 5 years for each other’s citizens. The arrangement underscores the United States’s commitment to promoting bilateral tourism and trade.

Business Immigration Now: Labor Solutions for Highly Skilled Workers - April 1st Petition Deadline for H-1B Fiscal Year 2015 Cap Season

U.S. businesses may use the H-1B visa program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, including, but not limited to: scientists, engineers, or computer programmers. 65,000 H-1B visas may be awarded each year; 20,000 H-1B visas are reserved for foreign nationals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher.

DOL Administrative Review Board Nixes Greedy H-1B Worker's Front Pay Appeal Based on New H-1B Employer Petition Approval

Executive Summary: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has just released a final decision and order rendered this past July by the Administrative Review Board (ARB), holding that an H-1B worker's front pay claim against a former employer is cut off where it is clear that the worker changed employers and is the beneficiary of an approved H-1B petition filed by the new employer. In the Matter of Batyrbekov v. Barclays Capital (Barclays Group US Inc.), ARB Case No. 13-013, Final Decision and Order (ARB, July 16, 2014).

Business Immigration Now: Worksite Enforcement Investigations - Know Your Rights

Employers who use federal visa programs may become subject to worksite enforcement investigations from various federal agencies. The primary worksite enforcement mechanism utilized by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the I-9 audit. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) utilizes worksite enforcement audits to investigate employers concerning wage and hour compliance, as well as H-2A, H-2B and H-1B visa program compliance.

State Department Releases January 2015 Visa Bulletin

The U.S. Department of State has released the January 2015 Visa Bulletin, which summarizes visa availability for individuals seeking U.S. Permanent Residence. As compared to the December 2013 Visa Bulletin, some significant movement occurred in the oversubscription date (i.e., the date on which the availability quota was met) for employment-based visa categories:

State Department Releases January 2015 Visa Bulletin

The U.S. Department of State has released the January 2015 Visa Bulletin, which summarizes visa availability for individuals seeking U.S. Permanent Residence. As compared to the December 2013 Visa Bulletin, some significant movement occurred in the oversubscription date (i.e., the date on which the availability quota was met) for employment-based visa categories.

Here's How Obama's Immigration Actions Will Affect Employers

When President Obama announced his Executive Actions On Immigration (to take effect in about 90 days), he said that the changes were intended to “make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed.”