The green card-seeking student will also need a job offer in a field related to the graduate's degree and with wages that meet or exceed the prevailing wage of the particular occupation.
The "start-up business and job creation visa," provides "conditional green cards" for entrepreneurs that can show sponsorship by a venture capital company, angel investor or qualified employer and an investment of at least $500,000.
The conditional aspect of the visa can be removed after two years after showing that the business has created full-time jobs for at least three U.S. workers, has raised $1 million in additional capital investments, or has created a new commercial enterprise with at least $1 million in revenue.
The bill will increase the availability of green cards in a number of ways, particularly by exempting spouses and minor children from counting against the 140,000 numerical limits on employment-based green cards. Less than half of that number is actually available to workers because most are used for spouses and children of the workers, according to details of the bill provided by Lofgren's office.
The bill also allows "certain undocumented immigrants" who qualify for start-up entrepreneur visas and advance degree STEM visas "to obtain such visas if they were present in the U.S. on the date of enactment and have been continuously present since that date."
The bill also permits "certain undocumented students who are enrolled in a full course of study at an accredited public or non-profit U.S. institution of higher education to apply for temporary student visas if they were present in the U.S. on the date of enactment, have been continuously present since that date, and initially entered the U.S. at 15 years of age or younger."
The bill creates a new $2,000 fee for employers who file employment based green card petitions. The money will be used to fund STEM education, 60 percent of which will be used for scholarships. Most of the remainder will be used for education and job training, with 3 percent set aside for administration and enforcement.
On wages, Lofgren's bill appears to raise the salaries for some H-1B workers by eliminating the lowest level of the prevailing wage scale and creating three levels instead of four. It extends the prevailing wage requirement to L-1 workers if they are on the job longer than 18 months over a three-year period.
The bill also ranks the H-1B applications differently. If the H-1B visa cap is exceeded, the applications that offer the highest wage levels are considered first.
The proposal also prohibits displacement of U.S. workers, including by third party employers, which would likely include contract shops and offshore firms.
Lofgren's legislation would also change one of the most often criticized problems with the H-1B visa, and that's the ability of H-1B employers to hire visa workers without first recruiting U.S workers. The recruiting requirement, however, is applied to green card workers under current law, which is something employers try to work around.
This bill moves the recruitment requirement "from the back end to the front end of the H-1B process." The law includes exceptions, such as for employers who pay wages that meet or exceed the mean wage.
The bill also removes fashion models from the H-1B program, and puts them in the "P" visa program.
Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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