The Senate bill would set up new guest worker programs and grant visas to high skilled and low skilled foreign workers. The new guest worker program, the W visa program, that the immigration reform bill would create would be meant for the low-skilled workers. This program would initially be capped at 20,000 and might start in the year 2015. Foreign workers who seek to work in America would be permitted to apply for W visas at US Consulates or Embassies in their home countries. These visas would be valid or three years and W visa holders could extend their stay in America by applying for renewal after three years.
To employ W visa holders, US employers would be required to register and to register, US employers must file applications with a description of the type of work and estimated number of W visa holders they seek to hire, every year. Only the registered employers would be permitted to hire W visa holders. Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research, would be created and it would use labor market information to determine the labor shortages. $20 million would be appropriated to establish this Bureau and the fees collected from the US employers who register would also be used to fund the bureau. Spouses and minor children of W visa holders would also be permitted to travel to the United States. Likewise they would be granted work permits, valid for three years.
In order to become eligible for W visas, foreign workers must file applications at overseas US Embassies or Consulates and must be admissible into the country. They must meet few requirements, pass criminal background checks and must be willing to accept registered positions in the United States. Though the temporary workers would be permitted to work in America for three years and renew their visas, they would be required to leave America if they are unemployed for two consecutive months. Moreover, these workers would not be permitted to work in areas where the unemployment rate is above 8.5 percent.
Apart from that, the US employers would be required to pay the W visa holders the actual wages that the US employers pay the other employees. The Secretary may not accept the applications filed by employers who do not advertise the positions on the website maintained by the Secretary of Labor for at least 30 days. These guest workers can remain in America only as non-immigrants and they may not be permitted to apply for permanent resident status.
The Senate bill would create a visa program for the agricultural workers and permit those workers to become permanent residents of the country. Undocumented immigrants who are currently working in agricultural industries and those who have worked for at least 100 days would be allowed to obtain lawful status under the Agricultural Card Program. A new agricultural guest worker program would also be created and new W-2 visa and W-3 visa programs would replace the current H-2A program.