WASHINGTON – A major overhaul of the nation’s immigration system seems possible after a bipartisan group of Senators released their blueprint Monday for creating a path to citizenship for the millions of illegal immigrants in this country.
As part of that process, DFL U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is set to unveil legislation that would give the business community something that’s it has wanted for a long time: more visas to bring in highly-skilled foreign workers.
Klobuchar touted the proposal as an economic win-win, especially a provision that removes any visa limitations on foreigners with advanced degrees from American universities.
“We are literally shutting the door to people that would come here and invent products and then they would hire more people,” said Klobuchar.
While it’s likely the proposals to offer permanent residency and citizenship for illegal workers will likely draw more attention in the coming days, Klobuchar’s proposal, co-authored with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), represents a big change for engineers, software developers and other skilled workers hoping to work in the U.S.
Currently, 65,000 foreign workers are granted H1B visas every year. Under the Klobuchar-Hatch legislation, that number would jump to 115,000 right away and then rise by 20,000 every year, reaching a cap of 300,000 workers a year. The legislation would also allow those visa holders to change jobs more easily.
In addition, Klobuchar and Hatch’s bill would increase visa fees charged to immigrants by $1,000 and use the proceeds, likely around $300 million per year, to fund science, technology, engineering and math education and worker retraining programs in the U.S.