Immigration Bill May Have Big Impact on Small Business

The immigration bill introduced by the “Gang of Eight” – a bipartisan collective of U.S. senators – contains recommendations on a number of measures, including the beefing up of border security and visa reform.

The proposed legislation also contains some new policies that could have a big impact on small businesses, especially start-ups. Here’s why:

Increases the number of H1-B visas for highly skilled workers – the bill proposes to almost double the number of annual H1-B visas, from the current level of 65,000 to 110,000 a year. This helps companies whose business model is heavily tech-oriented.

Merit-based immigration visas – recommends that a merit-based point system be enacted for immigrant visas with points awarded for level of education, employment demand and English language skills, among other factors.

Expansion of E-Verify system – expands the current E-Verify system and requires employers to use the system to add new employee information into the national database.

Creation of W visa program for low-skill workers – creates a new class of visa to allow businesses to keep lower skilled workers who don’t qualify for a HB-1 or other visas.

Foreign-born entrepreneur visas – creates a new program called the INVEST non-immigrant visa that allows up to 10,000 qualified business founders and investors to remain in the U.S., with strict rules for qualification.

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