June 30, 2006
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) today commended the introduction of the "SKIL Bill" by Representative John Shadegg (R-AZ) to reform both the H-1B visa and employment based (EB visa) green card processes. The legislation is cosponsored by Representatives John Campbell (R-CA), K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), John T. Doolittle (R-CA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Mike Pence (R-IN), John Shimkus (R-IL) and Todd Tiahrt (R-KS).
The introduction of the SKIL Bill in the House is a positive sign that both the U.S. Congress and Bush Administration are serious about correcting the growing competitiveness crisis for the United States and reform the visa system for highly educated foreign nationals. AILA also supports similar provisions addressing H-1B and EB visa issues contained in comprehensive immigration legislation in the Senate as well as the President's American Competitiveness Initiative.
"Representative Shadegg's introduction of the SKIL Bill in the House brings us closer to an important fix to the broken H-1B and EB green card systems," said Carlina Tapia-Ruano, president of AILA. "History has shown that highly educated foreign-born professionals bring great benefits to the U.S. economy and we applaud him for his leadership on this critical issue."
Among the highlights of the SKIL Bill (Securing Knowledge Innovation and Leadership) include the following:
- Exemptions for U.S. educated foreign workers with master's or higher degrees from the H-1B and EB green card quotas so their talent can be retained in the United States.
- Creation of a flexible, market-based H-1B cap so that U.S. employers are not locked out of hiring critical talent for over a year at a time.
- Extension of foreign students' post curricular optional practical training from 12 months to 24 months to allow them to transition more easily from student to green card.
- Exemptions for EB green card immigrant spouses and children from the annual cap, thus making more visas available for the innovative professionals we need.
Immigration Law Group will continue to provide updates on this proposed legislation as they become available.