Immigration Reform on the Horizon?

Immigration Reform on the Horizon?

Vandeventer Black LLP

by Mara Mijal

On September 29, 2010, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010.  It is unclear what the fate of this proposed legislation may be, but some of the key provisions provide for new programs to prevent illegal employment, as well as new benefits to various categories of foreign workers in the United States.

The proposed worksite enforcement provisions include the following:

-Mandates the use of an employment verification system for all employers within five years.

-Creates a new fraud-resistant, tamper-resistant Social Security card; requires workers to use fraud- and tamper-resistant documents to prove authorization to work in the United States.

-Requires the Social Security Administration to create a reliable and secure way of verifying Social Security numbers and work authorization.

-Adds criminal penalties for fraud and misuse of Social Security numbers.

-Provides protections for workers to prevent fraudulent use of social security numbers.

-Creates a voluntary pilot program using biometric identifiers to demonstrate work authorization.

The proposed benefits for foreign workers in the United States include the following:

-Creates a Standing Commission on Immigration, Labor Markets, and the National Interest to evaluate labor market and economic conditions and recommend quotas for employment- based visa programs upon which Congress and the President would act.

-Creates a new nonimmigrant visa program (H-2C) to address gaps in existing worker programs that have led to undocumented migration. The number of H-2C workers admitted to the program would be completely dependent upon the Commission's recommendations regarding the impact on the labor market and economy.  Workers must have a job offer and meet various application requirements.

-Significantly expands labor protections in current H-2A, H-2B, H-1B, and L-1 visa programs.

-Incorporates the AgJOBS bill, which provides a path to permanent residency for farm workers and revises agricultural employer sponsorship requirements.

The proposed Act also includes important provisions regarding employment-based green card benefits, family-based immigration benefits, and legalization of certain undocumented workers.  If and when Congress acts to pass immigration reform legislation, you should contact an attorney who specializes in immigration law to discuss how it may affect your foreign national workers.

Authored by attorneys, these articles are meant to bring awareness to these topics and are not intended to be used as legal advice. For more information, contact Mike Sterling at 757-446-8626 or Bill Franczek at 757 -446-8600.  Visit www , for our library of Construction Law Tips.  Suggestions for a topic? E-mail

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