US may unveil new category of visas

US may unveil new category of visas
Highlights

The Immigration bill is also crucial to fulfilling the American dream of several students and skilled workers...

The Immigration bill is also crucial to fulfilling the American dream of several students and skilled workers in other countries. The immigration reform may finally create some new non-immigrant visa categories also.

rao magantiA sweeping overhaul to the country's immigration laws, the United States Senate passed the Immigration Reform bill last Thursday. As the next step, the US House of Representatives must also pass an immigration bill (President Obama urged the Senate to pass a bill by August). However, John Boehner, leader of the Republican-controlled House, has indicated that the House Republicans would draft their own bill.

In such a scenario when the Senate and the House of Representatives' bills are unalike, a Conference Committee will review both the bills and try to fix the variations. Then, it will be sent back to the Senate and the House of Representatives for the final voting. Following the Congressional authorisation, the bill will go to the President for his approval. If the US President signs the bill into law, administrators at various levels will work for about a year to draft regulations to facilitate the implementation of the new Act.

Though it's still a long walk ahead for the champions of the US immigration reform which has been chiefly aimed at creating a 13-year pathway to American citizenship for most of the 11 million undocumented illegal immigrants now living in the United States, the bill is also crucial to fulfilling the American dream of several students and skilled workers in other countries. The immigration reform may finally create some new non-immigrant visa categories also.

A "V" visa for families with accepted family visa petitions to work in America as they wait for their green card; and a non-immigrant "W" visa for low wage foreign workers in an occupation in a labor shortage area are under consideration. On "V" visas, other family members like brothers and sisters may also be allowed to travel to the US and stay there US for a utmost 60 days. The proposed "W" visa will give an opportunity to apply for a green card, finally. And, as the immigration reform bill progresses, "W" category dependents may also seek work authorization in the US.

Visas under "W" category will cover work areas such as agriculture and construction where college degrees are not needed. As we have already discussed earlier in this column, the immigration reform would also create the green card option for international students who obtained their advanced STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) degrees from US. universities (we have also reviewed the H-1B temporary worker visa program vis-�-vis the immigration reform bill in earlier weeks).

International students and others who have been keenly watching the progression of the immigration reform at various levels should always keep in mind that the US is an entirely different system (as compared to India) when it comes to the decision-making process. Freedom of expression and national interest rule the roost everywhere. Also, Lawmakers from a particular political party need not necessarily echo the voice of their party leader or go by the diktat of the party while discussing or taking stance on a measure or reform. In such a backdrop, the US immigration reform bid is sure to unveil some fascinating twists and turns in near future.

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