Immigration Reform 2013: How Do the House and Senate's Immigration Plans Compare?

The full Senate is expected to debate, amend, and most likely pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill this month. A bipartisan group of representatives drafting a House version has a similar goal for starting debate.

Details of the comprehensive House bill are being kept under wraps. What has not been so quiet is Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) futile attempt to disrupt the process by introducing single-issue bills. Those involved in the Senate have said a piecemeal approach to immigration reform is not acceptable and will not be considered. However, since we know the details of the bills Goodlatte has introduced, how do they compare to the Senate bill? This is important should they make it into the House’s comprehensive bill.

                                                            Goodlatte Bill                        Senate Bill

High Skilled Workers

55,000 green card petitions per year for graduates with advanced STEM degrees

No limit for graduates of U.S. universities with advanced STEM degrees

 

H-1B fees used to advance STEM education

Adds employer-paid $500 fee for STEM education

 

155,000 H-1B visa plus 40,000 special visas for graduates of U.S. universities. Provides work permits for spouses

 

110,000 – 180,000 H-1B visas plus 25,000 STEM

 

Implements prevailing wage

Implements prevailing wage

 

10,000 green cards for entrepreneurs

10,000 green cards for entrepreneurs and investors

 

Eliminates per-country caps

Ends diversity visas

 

25,000 spouse and minor children visas for permanent residents. Keeps per-country caps in place but increases number

Spouse and children allowed to accompany

 

Repeals diversity lottery and sibling of U.S. citizen permanent residency allocations

Ends diversity visas

 

 

 

E-Verify

Replaces I-9 with E-Verify

Replaces I-9 with E-Verify

 

Phases in implementation over 24 months

Phases in over 48 months

 

Agricultural workers subject to verification during the first 24 months only

Agricultural workers subject to verification after 4 years

 

Eliminates duplicate states laws already in existence.

Allows local governments to make compliance with federal law a condition for business license.

Allows states to keep fines if the state helps enforce federal law.

Establishes a grant program to states that assist in federal enforcement efforts

 

Holds employers harmless if they receive false information from system

Holds employers harmless if they receive false information from system

 

 

 

Guest workers

Agricultural workers only

Agricultural and other temporary workers

 

Replaces H-2A visa with H-2C visa program

Replaces H-2A with W-1 and W-2

Keeps H-2B and creates W visa for low skilled workers

 

Allows worker to switch employer “at-will”

Allows worker to switch employer “at-will”

 

Maximum stay 18 months unless job is permanent, then 36 months.

Worker must leave country for a set period of time before applying for another H-2C visa

Maximum stay for agricultural worker – 3 years with one 3-year renewal. 3-month return required after renewal period.

H-2B and W visa: 3 years renewable for subsequent 3-year periods. No return required

 

H-2C jobs must be listed with state employment departments for 30 days

Jobs must be listed with state employment departments for 45 days

 

Higher of prevailing or minimum wage requirement

Higher of minimum wage or rate stated in act requirement

 

Requires employers to withhold 10% of wages in escrow to disincentivize overstays.

Not in Senate bill

 

Employers pay the equivalent of Social Security and Unemployment Insurance taxes to the Department of Agriculture

Employer responsible for Worker’s Comp

 

Guarantees worker 50% of promised hours

Guarantees 75% of promised hours

 

Housing and transportation not provided by employer

Housing and transportation or allowance required to be provided

 

Allows arbitration and mediation of disputes

Workers not eligible for legal assistance under Legal Services Corporation Act.

Allows arbitration and mediation of disputes

Workers are eligible for legal assistance under Legal Services Corporation Act.

 

Family members may not accompany worker unless they also qualify as guest workers

Family members of agricultural workers must also qualify for visa. Spouses and children of W and H-2B visa holders may accompany

 

Allows agricultural workers currently in the country illegally to work until H-2C program is implemented

Establishes Blue Card for agricultural workers already here

 

500,000 visas. Secretary of Agriculture may raise or lower based on need.

112,333 W-1 / W-2 visas. Secretary of Agriculture may raise or lower based on need.

167,000 W visas

No change to H-2B allocation process

 

Workers not eligible for means tested benefits.

Workers not eligible for means tested benefits.

Looking at this comparison, a conference bill for comprehensive immigration reform could be drafted, passed by both chambers of Congress, and signed into law by the president. The major obstacle will be if the House decides to piecemeal reform.

 

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Douglas Goodman

Retired military and Quality Assurance / Warehouse Operations and Distribution Manager. Have enjoyed politics since the Kennedy/Nixon debates. Besides good political discussions, I've been involved in campaigns at all levels as well as having served on school, city, and county committees and boards. Been called weird because I enjoy reading government legislation and other government rules and regulations.

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