On August 1, Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a wide-ranging piece of immigration legislation mainly aimed at curing a number of flawed family-based and employment-based immigration quota counting processes by recapturing old visa numbers, much as the Schedule A nursing legislation did in 2005. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Maria Cantwell (WA) joined Senator Menendez as co-sponsors of the bill.
Summary of The Visa Efficiency and E-Verify Extension Act of 2008, as listed by the Senator’s Press Release.
– Recapture of Unused Visas: This bill recaptures unused or unclaimed employment-based visas and family-sponsored visas from fiscal years 1992 through 2007 and allows unused family and employment-based visas in future years to automatically “roll over” to the next fiscal year.
– Extension of the Conrad State 30 Program: The bill extends the Conrad State 30 program for 5 years to June 1, 2013. The Conrad State 30 program was designed to provide each of the fifty U.S. states with 30 waivers for J-1 physicians each fiscal year.
– Extension of Religious Worker Program: The bill requires DHS to issue final regulations to eliminate or reduce fraud related to the granting of special immigrant status for individuals working in a religious vocation or occupation. The bill extends the special immigrant non-minister religious worker program to October 1, 2011. Under this bill, the DHS Inspector General shall submit on the effectiveness of the regulations to reduce fraud by 2010.
– Reauthorization of E-verify: This bill also reauthorizes the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Basic Pilot electronic employment eligibility verification program, also known as “E-Verify.” This legislation provides for a 5-year extension of this program for the electronic employment verification of employees.
– Protection of Social Security Administration Programs: This legislation requires DHS to provide timely and appropriate payments to the Social Security Administration so that E-verify does not interfere with SSA’s ability to serve seniors, people with disabilities, and survivors.
– Government Accountability Office (GAO) Study of Basic Pilot Confirmation System: This bill requires the GAO to report to Congress on the causes of erroneous tentative nonconfirmations, how they are remedied and the effect they have on individuals, employers and federal agencies. It also requires the GAO to examine the experiences of small businesses, non-profits and municipalities with using Basic Pilot.