Even many foes of the H-1B visa (the rational ones, anyway) support the idea of clearing a path to permanent residency for talented graduates of U.S. universities. In a nutshell, that means making it easier for these folks to obtain green cards. In a post from last spring, I used an excerpt from my interview with Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a well-known opponent of the H-1B program. When I asked him about green cards, Hira said:
You've got people who are very smart and they want to stay here, but there are interminable waits of six, eight, 10 years. That's unacceptable. I am actually in favor of increasing the green card quotas and having a more rational program.
Streamlining the green card process is just one aspect of a 600-page proposal to overhaul the U.S. immigration system introduced by Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas) earlier this month. Much like a piece of sweeping immigration legislation from 2007, that failed despite backing from then-President George Bush, Ortiz's proposal attempts to tackle the issues affecting both the degreed professionals seeking high-skill jobs in the U.S. and the largely uneducated folks that come to the U.S. to fill low-paying service jobs.
Republicans voted against the 2007 bill en masse, coming out strongly against the idea of amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the U.S. Though similar provisions are included in Ortiz's Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009, perhaps politicians angling for re-election will be more willing to support them in an effort to appeal to Hispanics, many of whom voted for both George Bush and Barack Obama.
Drawn from a summary of the legislation, here are some tidbits related to visas and other issues related to temporary employment of skilled foreigners. My commentary appears in parentheses.:
The bill also supports creation of an independent federal Commission on Immigration and Labor Markets that is tasked with developing employment-based immigration policies for the promotion of economic growth, competitiveness, and wage and labor protections. The commission would also analyze and publish employment-related immigration data, and make recommendations to Congress for setting new levels of employment-based migration. (More accurate and transparent employment-related data would be great, as it's been hard to come by in the past.)
Here's some information related to green cards and other visas leading toward permanent residency:
The bill also expands the EB-5 visa program, which is designed to promote foreign investment in the U.S., boosting the annual number of available visas to 10,000 and creating a new venture capitalist visa. Cleveland is among the American cities that have been pushing for expansion of the EB-5 program.