Following is a section-by-section summary of S. 2045, the H-1B bill, prepared by Arthur L. Zabenko, Esq.
Section 101. Title of the Act is the “American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000.”
Section 102. Increase in Number of H-1B Visas
The bill raises the limit on the number of H-1B visas that can be issued to:
195,000 in fiscal year 2001
195,000 in fiscal year 2002
195,000 in fiscal year 2003
The bill also provides that the number of visas for fiscal year 1999 is increased to the number who were issued visas, and the number for fiscal year 2000 is increased to the number used for petitions filed prior to September 1, 2000.
Section 103. Exemption from Cap for Universities and Research Institutions
The H-1B cap will not apply to anyone employed (or who has an offer of employment) at an institution of higher education or a related nonprofit entity. It will also not apply to a nonprofit research organization or a government research organization. If someone leaves this job, then they will be become re-subject to the H-1B cap unless the next employer is also exempt.
Section 104. Changes Rules on Per Country Quotas for Employment-Based Green Card Applicants.
This section provides that any employment-based visas not used in a calendar quarter can be used in the next quarter without regard to any per country limitations. It also provides that nonimmigrant status for someone who is the beneficiary of an I-140 that has been field can be extended until a decision is made on the adjustment application if that person is subject to the quota.
Section 105. Increased Portability of H-1B Status
Anyone who is in H-1B status and has a new employer file and H-1B petition is authorized to work for the employer when the petition is filed. If the petition is ultimately denied, the authorization will end at the time of the denial. It applies to petitions that are pending at the time of enactment.
Section 106. Extension of Stay when Applications are Delayed by the INS and Portability of Green Cards
It eliminates the six-year limit and allows extensions in one-year increments of H-1B status for people who have had a labor certification, I-140 or I-485 pending for more than a year. It also allows people whose I-485s have been pending for more than 180 to change employers as long as the new job is in a same or similar field.
Section 107. Extensions of Parts of ACWIA
The attestation requirements for H-1B dependent employers are extended from October 1, 2001 to October 1, 2003, and Department of Labor investigation provisions in the 1998 law are extended for an additional year to September 30, 2003.
Section 108. Recovery of Fraudulently Used Visas.
If an alien issued a visa subject to the H-1B visa cap is found to have obtained it by fraud or willful misrepresentation of a material fact, and the visa is revoked, then a visa number shall be added back to the H-1B visa quota for the year in which the visa is revoked. It does not matter if the visa was originally counted for an earlier fiscal year.
Section 109. National Science Foundation Study on the Digital Divide
The National Science Foundation is required to conduct a study on the “digital divide,” and submit it to Congress within 18 months of the enactment of the bill
Section 110. Modification of Nonimmigrant Petitioner Account Provisions
This section changes the percentage of the $500 fee originally imposed by ACWIA allocated to Job Training and Low-Income Scholarship programs including allocating 15% to the NSF for matching grant programs to support private public partnerships in K-12 education.
Section 111. Demonstration Programs and Projects to Provide Technical Skills Training for Workers
This provision specifies the types of programs under the Department of Labor to funded by ACWIA fees and the percentage of the fees allocated to different programs.
Section 112. Kids 2000 Crime Prevention and Computer Education Initiative
The “Kids 2000 Act” provides for grants of $20,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2001 through 2006 to Boys and Girls Clubs of America to fund effective after-school technology programs such as PowerUp. The Boys and Girls Clubs of America can make subawards to teachers and equipment.
Section 113. Use of Fees for Duties Relating to Petitions
The percentage of ACWIA fees allocated to the INS to improve processing of petition is increased to 1.5% to 4%.
Section 114. J Nonimmigrants not Subject to Cap
J nonimmigrants granted a waiver are not subject to the cap on H-1Bs.
Section 115. Study and Report on the Digital Divide
The Secretary of Commerce shall make a study of public and private high-tech workforce training programs in the United States and make a report to Congress within 18 months of enactment.
Section 116. Severability
If any section of the act is found invalid of the rest of the act remains valid.
Section 201. Immigration Services and Infrastructure Improvements Act of 2000
The title of this section is the “Immigration Services and Infrastructure Improvements Act of 2000.”
Section 202. Purpose and Goals
The purpose of the act is to provide the INS with the resources it needs to eliminate the current backlogs within one year and provide for regular Congressional oversight of INS. The goal is to get the processing time for immigration benefit applications to no more than 180 days except for H, L, O and P which should take no more than 30 days.
Section 203. Definition
“Backlog” is defined as the time in excess of 180 days that an application has been pending with the INS. “Immigration Benefit Application” means any application or petition to confer, certify, change, adjust or extend any immigration status.
Section 204. Immigration Services and Infrastructure Improvement Account
The Department of Justice is authorized to make appropriations to the Attorney General the money necessary to reduce the backlog, make improvements in processing so that backlogs do not develop in the future and make improvements in infrastructure to provide immigration services effectively. The appropriations cannot be made until the report required by Section 205 is submitted to Congress.
Section 205. Report to Congress
Within 90 days and every year after that the Attorney General shall submit to Congress a detailed report on the backlogs at INS and the plans to overcome them.