New Comprehensive Immigration Bill to be Introduced in US House
Florida Republican Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar and Texas Democrat Rep. Veronica Escobar have teamed up on a sprawling immigration bill that aims to revamp asylum processing, slash visa backlogs, and provide a path to legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants.
The nearly 500-page bill, set to be announced Tuesday, represents a rare bipartisan effort on immigration, a topic that has become a political wedge issue and source of stalemate in Congress for decades. And it includes proposals that incorporate elements from earlier, narrower bipartisan immigration bills.
The proposed legislation would create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children, known as Dreamers. It would also establish a program to allow other undocumented immigrants to live and work in the country legally if they pay restitution.
The measure would overhaul how asylum claims are processed at the border and invest more money into border security infrastructure and technology.
The proposed bill takes aim at the work visa and green card systems.
It would raise the limit on certain types of green cards for citizens of each country from 7 percent of the total available to 15 percent, to try to alleviate backlogs that have kept citizens from India and China waiting years for a green card to become available. It would also make more green cards available by exempting the green card applicant’s minor children and spouses from the cap.
The bill would codify a program to provide work permits to the spouses of certain high-skilled visa holders and prevent the children of visa holders from “aging out” of their parents’ application due to processing delays.
It would also earmark millions of dollars to speed up visa processing, including more than $2.5 billion to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ operations and support account. Additionally, the bill would create a new position for an immigration agency coordinator to make recommendations to improve processing across USCIS and the departments of State and Labor.
SOURCE: Suzanne Monyak, “Salazar, Escobar to propose comprehensive immigration bill.” Roll Call, May 23, 2023: https://rollcall.com/2023/05/23/salazar-escobar-to-propose-comprehensive-immigration-bill/
U.S. Department of State Increases Nonimmigrant Fees at Consulates
The U.S. Department of State has increased certain nonimmigrant visa (NIV) application processing fees. These increases were published in the Federal Register on March 28, 2023, and will be effective on May 30, 2023. The fee for visitor visas for business or tourism (B1/B2s and BCCs), and other non-petition-based NIVs such as student and exchange visitor visas, will increase from $160 to $185. The fee for certain petition-based nonimmigrant visas for temporary workers (H, L, O, P, Q, and R categories) will increase from $190 to $205. The fee for a treaty trader, treaty investor, and treaty applicant in a specialty occupation (E category) will increase from $205 to $315.
NIV fees are set based on the actual cost of providing NIV services and are determined after conducting a study of the cost of these services. The Department uses an Activity-Based Costing (ABC) methodology to calculate, annually, the cost of providing consular services, including visa services. The fees for most non-petition-based NIVs were last updated in 2012, and certain other NIV fees were last updated in 2014.
Other consular fees are not affected by this rule, including the waiver of the two-year residency required fee for certain exchange visitors.