There are a few draft copies of the Senate’s CIR floating around the internet. It is a very long document and is absolutely not in final form. As expected nurses, physical therapists, OTs, etc. look like they will be eligible for either a nonimmigrant visa (the Y visa or the H-1 visa) or permanent residency. These options are not mutually exclusive. In other words a worker may apply for a nonimmigrant visa and also apply for permanent residency.

What is unclear in the draft is timing. There is a trigger mechanism before the Y visa may be enacted. It is unclear as to how long it will take for the trigger to be effected. Likewise, while the bill creates a “merit based” permanent residency program and creates a points-based system, it doesn’t explain the value of each point. Does it take 100 points to become a resident? 200 points? What about visa quotas? The Senate’s CIR gives the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security the authority to “establish procedures to adjudicate petitions filed pursuant to the merit-based evaluation system.” (Sec. 502(b)). The Senate’s CIR is explicit: all current EB visa cases continue to exist and will be “grandfathered”. It appears that a minimum of 90,000 visas will be set aside for these grandfathered cases. So good news there.

For now retrogression still very much exists. HLG is still committed to a bridge amendment for Schedule A occupations, just as we were in 2005. We are actively seeking this bridge.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that this is not a law. The Senate will spend most of this upcoming week debating the proposal. The proposal may change. Then the House must act. It seems unlikely that they will approve the exact same bill. Assuming that the House approves a bill, the two bodies (House and Senate) will have to conference and reconcile any differences. We’re still quite a bit away from immigration reform.