On 25 January 2018, Senators Orrin Hatch and Jeff Flake introduced the Immigration Innovation Act of 2018. The bill would make several changes to the current immigration law regarding H-1B visas, employment-based immigration visas, and other provisions.
The law would affect the H-1B visa process in the following ways: it would increase the H-1B cap from 65,000 to 85,000, change the prioritization when enough petitions are received within the first five days of the filing period, provide for exemptions for U.S. master’s degree holders with employers beginning the green card process, and impose penalties for failure to withdraw. The bill would also prohibit employers from hiring with the “purpose and intent” of displacing a U.S. worker, provide work authorizations to persons in H-4 status where the H-1B beneficiary has a pending or approved I-140 petition, and reduce the circumstances in which an amended petition is required. Further, the bill would provide a grace period to H-1B beneficiaries whose employment ends prior to the end of the authorized period of admission, increase the burden on employers with more than 50 employees, and increase the base ACWIA fees.
The law also would implement changes to employment-based visas by eliminating per country limits, increasing family-based visa per-country limits by 15 percent, permitting employment-based immigrants with approved I-140s to file for adjustments, removing the 180-day temporal requirement, permitting portability to a same or similar occupation for certain individuals, and creating new employment-based conditional immigrant visas for certain categories of individuals. Other changes to immigration laws would include amending the INA to require the first level of wages to be no less than the mean of the lowest 50 percent surveyed, requiring a study to determine whether occupations in Schedule A should be modified, allowing dual intent for F-1 students, and streamlining procedures by requiring DHS to allow pre-certification procedures for employers who file multiple petitions, and allowing electronic filing.