Following five days of hearings over three weeks and consideration of 300 amendments, the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 21, 2013, passed the immigration reform bill in a bipartisan 13-5 vote. Three Republican Senators, including Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and Jeff Flake (AZ) who helped draft the original bill, joined ten Democratic Senators to approve the bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indicated that the bill will be debated on the Senate floor in early June.
The centerpiece of the legislation, providing a 13-year path to citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented aliens emerged intact. Another provision that will be voted on by the full Senate is raising the number of H-1B specialty occupation visas from 85,000 to 110,000 annually (an increase to 180,000 is possible). In a move praised by the technology industry, the Committee dropped a related provision that would have required U.S. companies to test the labor market and search for an “equally qualified” U.S. worker before sponsoring an H-1B worker.
We will continue to monitor the upcoming congressional debate and keep you informed on any changes and revisions to the bill. A summary of the original bill is available at http://www.jacksonlewis.com/resources.php?NewsID=4447.