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Obama takes immigration into his own hands

Although most recent talk about immigration reform in Texas and other states has revolved around the decisions of the national legislature, President Obama can still make some changes on his own. Congress has again failed to agree or back an immigration reform plan, so our chief executive says he intends to institute new immigration programs through his own branch of government. Reports show that he intends to target green cards and the H-1B visa system.

The sweeping modifications could make it easier for certain businesses to bring foreigners into the country to work under the H-1B visa program. That system is designed to help companies retain the most skilled international workers, with some of those visa holders ultimately pursuing citizenship. Further changes could lead to an increased number of employment-based green cards being issued to immigrants throughout the nation. At this time, only 140,000 such cards are permitted every year.

Current interpretation of that law requires that dependents fall under the 140,000 green card cap. That is, both the “anchor” employee and his or her spouse must apply for green cards in order to work, and both of those cards count against the quota. With the proposed modifications, the spouses and other family members may be able to obtain green cards outside of that system, leaving more permanent residency options for actual employees.

U.S. companies should be permitted to bring qualified employees into the country without unnecessary and unfair restrictions. These employees and their relatives deserve the protections of a green card, which would allow them to benefit from a potential path to citizenship. Employees who are worried about their visa status or that of their relatives may be entitled to additional legal protection under the proposed changes.

Source: Computer World, "Obama has big options for green card, H-1B reform without congress", Patrick Thibodeau, July 9, 2014

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