CQ TODAY MIDDAY UPDATE
Aug. 21, 2009 – 1:53 p.m.
Although a comprehensive immigration overhaul appears to be too much for Congress to contemplate this year, some targeted proposals still may advance when lawmakers return to work in September.
Several immigrant visa programs, as well as a worker eligibility verification tool, are set to expire at the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30, and efforts to renew them are well under way.
For instance, a Senate amendment to the Homeland Security appropriations bill would make permanent an immigrant visa category that offers green cards, or permanent resident status, to wealthy investors who do business in the United States and hire American workers.
The provision calls for a permanent reauthorization of the Regional Center Pilot Program, which distributes up to 3,000 visas annually to foreigners willing to invest at least $1 million in a new or existing business and create at least 10 jobs for U.S. citizens. In exchange, they receive an EB-5 immigrant visa, which allows them permanent residency and a path to citizenship.
Also set to expire is E-Verify, the government’s Internet-based worker eligibility verification program that was reauthorized through six-month patches within stopgap spending bills. The latest patch expires Sept. 30.
The Senate’s Homeland Security spending bill also was amended with a provision to make the E-Verify program permanent and require its use by all government contractors — reflecting a Bush administration rule that the Obama administration has delayed implementing until Sept. 8.