Earlier this week, Senators Hatch, Klobuchar, Rubio, Coons, Flake and Blumenthal introduced S. 153 the Immigration Innovation Act of 2015 (I-Squared). This bi-partisan bill marks the first positive immigration legislation introduced in the 114th Congress. It is also a solid bi-partisan piece of legislation. Please see a link to the official Senate press release.

Here is an excerpt of the major provisions of the I-Squared Act of 2015:

Employment-Based Nonimmigrant H-1B Visas

  • Increase the H-1B cap from 65,000 to 115,000
  • Allow the cap to go up (but not above 195,000) within any fiscal year where early filings exceed cap and require the cap to go down in a following fiscal year (but not below 115,000) if usage at the end of any fiscal year is below that particular year’s cap
  • Uncap the existing U.S. advanced degree exemption (currently limited to 20,000 per year)
  • Authorize employment for dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders
  • Increase worker mobility by establishing a grace period during which foreign workers can change jobs and not be out of status and restoring visa revalidation for E, H, L, O and P nonimmigrant visa categories

Student Visas

  • Allow dual intent for foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities to provide the certainty they need to ensure their future in the United States

Green Cards

  • Enable the recapture of green card numbers that were approved by Congress in previous years but were not used, and continue this policy going forward through the roll-over of unused green cards in future fiscal years to the following fiscal year
  • Exempt certain categories of persons from the employment-based green card cap:
    • Dependents of employment-based immigrant visa recipients
    • U.S. STEM advance degree holders
    • Persons with extraordinary ability
    • Outstanding professors and researchers
  • Eliminate annual per-country limits for employment based visa petitioners and adjust per-country caps for family-based immigrant visas

U.S. STEM Education & Worker Retraining Initiative

  • Reform fees on H-1B visas and employment-based green cards; use money from these fees to fund a grant program to promote STEM education and worker retraining to be administered by the states