Senate Judiciary Committee Passes S. 744 with Bipartisan Support

Posted By USI Law || 21-May-2013

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, in a major step towards the enactment of a wide
ranging Immigration Reform Bill, passed Senate Bill S. 744 by a vote of 13 to 5 earlier this
The Bill now moves to the full Senate and a possible vote could come sometime in June,
before Washington breaks for the July 4 holiday. With bi-partisan support and a strong
endorsement of the Judiciary Committee, the bill now has significant momentum.
There was rigorous debate at the Judiciary Committee. The debate was impacted by
American Labor Unions, led by the AFL-CIO, which put a lot of pressure to push back on
efforts to ease the onerous conditions imposed on the hiring of high skilled workers through
the H and L visa programs. This was countered by a coalition of the U.S. high technology
companies who argued that the underlying provisions in S.744 made it virtually impossible for
them to hire high skilled workers.
Senator Orrin Hatch (Republican of Utah) had a major impact on the legislation and
sponsored amendments that were supported by the U.S. high tech lobby. Many of Senator
Hatch’s amendments were passed through a compromise with the Democratic leadership.
Democrats felt that the Senator’s support was critical for future passage of the legislation and
that his vote could bring the support of additional conservative members.
Some of the amended provisions of the bill as it relates to employment visas are:
1. The baseline for H visas will be 115,000 per year and that number could rise over time
to a maximum of 180,000 per year. There are escalation clauses will be triggered by
how many visas are filed within a particular time period and could potentially see H
visa allocations increased by up to 20,000. However, if H visa filings fall short, then
the number of H visa allocations for the following year may decrease by up to 20,000.
2. The hiring of foreign workers on H or L Visas by “non H dependent companies” is
made easier as they will only have to stipulate that they are not displacing an
American worker. The original language in S.744 forbade the firing of an American employee for 90 days by a company that hired a foreign worker on an H-1B visa. This and other additional restrictions would have made employing foreign skilled workers in the United States almost impossible.
The AFL-CIO has stated that it will press it supporters in the Senate to reverse the
amendments that Senator Hatch was able to make to S.744, during the full Senate
deliberations. Business friendly provisions in Immigration Reform may have to wait until the
House, with its Republican majority, takes up the legislation. We will be providing periodic updates on this issue.
Should you have any questions, or need any clarifications, please contact Sarah Farnan, Law
Clerk at USILaw, via email at