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NACo > Legislation & Policy > Washington Watch > Posts > ​House, Senate Immigration Working Groups to Unveil Proposals
April 05
​House, Senate Immigration Working Groups to Unveil Proposals
The bipartisan groups working on immigration reform legislation are nearing completion of their legislative proposals.  The Senate “gang of eight” plans to unveil its bill the week of April 15 and the House group will follow suit the week of April 22. Both chambers plan to consider the legislation in regular order, meaning that they will go through the normal committee process.  This timetable could see committee mark-ups as early as May, with floor consideration in June and a House and Senate conference before the August recess.  It is important to note that while this issue remains a top priority in both chambers, it could very likely take much longer.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO recently negotiated an agreement on a visa program for lower-skilled workers, which has been a major point of contention in past immigration reform efforts.  It would be a new program called the W-visa for lesser skilled, non-seasonal workers. The visa program could include in-home service workers, a group that is expected to be in greater demand as the population ages, and is significant to counties that provide those services.

The agreement increases the number of W-visas issued—to start at 20,000 the first year and increase gradually until they reach 75,000 in the fourth year.  After that date, the visas would be adjusted based on a formula that would take into account job market demands and economic conditions with a minimum of 20,000 and a maximum of 200,000 visas a year.  Additionally, one-third of all visas would be available for businesses with fewer than 25 employees.  The number of visas would be determined by a new bureau within the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. W-visa holders would be able to apply for green cards and change employers and will be covered by state and federal labor laws.  Employers would be required to pay all fees associated with the program and will have to offer wages and working conditions that don’t adversely affect other U.S. workers.  This agreement is considered a significant step forward because this was one of the issues that derailed immigration reform in 2006 and 2007.

Contact:  Marilina Sanz 202.942.4260

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