A recent agreement between the US Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO union envisions the creation of a new visa classification for guest workers - the “W visa.” It could be available as early as April 2015, if Congress approves the measure.
Some key features of the proposed W visa classification are:
- 20,000 “W” visas could be available in the first year, 35,000 in the second, 55,000 in the third and 75,000 in the fourth. From the fifth year onwards, the number would vary according to need, based on the recommendations of a new federal bureau - the Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research. The program, however, would have a cap of 200,000 visas a year.
- The Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research would be created to monitor the labor market and identify labor shortages.
- The program would be available to workers in fields like hospitality, janitorial services, retail and construction.
- Visas for the construction industry would be limited to 15,000 a year.
- Foreign workers under the program would be allowed to petition for permanent resident status after working for one year.
- One-third of all visas would be issued to businesses that employ fewer than 25 people.
It is reported that a bill may be introduced in coming weeks proposing creation of the new W visa category.
It must however be noted that the proposals have to travel a long journey through the legislative process before they can become a law. We are monitoring the events and will keep you informed of significant developments in this regard.