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Now That The Immigration Reform Bill Has Passed The Senate, What's Next?

The Immigration Reform Bill passed the Senate, having been approved by a 68-32 vote on 27 June 2013. Although the Bill was hotly debated by the Senate Judiciary Committee and again by the full Senate, the fight to pass the bill is far from over. Indeed, the debate is about to heat up even more.

The next step is for the Bill to move through the House of Representatives. Many Representatives are opposed to comprehensive immigration reform and the House has been passing a number of bills aimed at creating piecemeal reform. That is, picking and choosing particular immigration issues that should be changed rather than revamping the field of immigration law as a whole, as the Immigration Reform Bill proposed to do.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte has already made crystal clear his opposition to many provisions in the Immigration Reform Bill. In a statement issued last week, he stated, "While I congratulate the Senate for working hard to produce immigration reform legislation, I have many concerns about its bill. The bill repeats many of the same mistakes made in the 1986 immigration law, which got us into this mess in the first place. Among my many concerns, the Senate bill does not adequately address the interior enforcement of our immigration laws and allows the Executive Branch to waive many, if not most, of the bill's requirements. While the Senate has every right to pass solutions it deems appropriate, the House does as well."

Oh, dear. Sounds like a battle of wills is about to ensue. One of the all too few immigration issues that the House and the Senate agree on is high-skilled immigration. There is overwhelming support for safeguarding America's "competitive edge" by making it easier for certain high-skilled individuals to put their skills to use in the American market rather than hand them off to competitor countries that are only too eager to take in the best and brightest minds of the world. In particular, the proposals include increasing the number of H-1B visas, eliminating per country caps for employment-based visas, and granting 'green cards' to foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

The areas of disagreement are many. One of the most controversial provisions in the Immigration Reform Bill involves the creation of a 'path to citizenship' for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the USA. Under the Bill, such individuals would have to pay a $2,000 fine and wait at least 13 years before becoming a US citizen. Opponents of such a move call the proposal an "amnesty" and believe that increased raids on US employers who might hire undocumented individuals will lead undocumented individuals to 'self deport'. Proponents of the Bill point out that, if undocumented individuals have not 'self-deported' during the difficult US economic recession, there is little likelihood of this taking place.

Another area of disagreement concerns the farm worker programme which, under the Bill, would be provided with 112,333 visas a year. This would allow US businesses to address severe labour supply problems which cause farmers to stop growing certain labour-intensive crops or send production overseas. Unlike the stance on high skilled immigration, many House representatives oppose increased visa numbers for manual labour despite the necessary implication that, without the needed labour force, the USA will have to increase its import of foods from abroad.

Far from considering it a done deal now that the Immigration Reform Bill has passed the Senate, there is yet a long and arduous battle ahead. The American Immigration Law Office will keep bringing you updates as they become available. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn to stay on top of the latest US immigration news!

The American Immigration Law Office is a US immigration law firm in London, UK. The firm's US immigration lawyer in London handles a wide range of US immigrant and non-immigrant visas and would be delighted to assist with your matter.