On 12/15/15, Congress released the omnibus appropriations bill. Several immigration-related issues were highly debated in the run-up to the bill's release. Some of those immigration issues include:
- Business Immigration: The bill extends the EB-5, Conrad 30, Special Immigrant Religious Workers, and E-Verify programs through the end of FY2016.
It also includes the following changes to the currently expired H-1B/L-1 fees for companies with more than 50 employees and companies where 50% or more of the employees hold H-1B or L-1 status:
- Supplemental L-1 fees for 50/50 companies increase from $2,250 to $4,500;
- Supplemental H-1B fees for 50/50 companies increase from $2,000 to $4,000;
- Fees must be paid on initial petitions and extension petitions;
- Fees are authorized for ten years, running through September 30, 2025; and
- The funds generated by these fees will be split between the 9-11 programs and the Biometric Entry-Exit program.
- Flexibility for H-2B workers in the seafood industry regarding when they can start working;
- Use of private wage surveys;
- Definition of "seasonal" as ten months;
- Limitations on the Department of Labor's ability to implement some aspects of the interim final rule; and
- Exempting H-2B returning workers from the 66,000 annual cap for FY2016.
- Refugees: The bill does not contain proposals that harm, restrict, defund, or end the U.S. refugee program's resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
- Visa Waiver Program: The bill includes the House-passed bill reforming the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which contains categorical exclusions for nationals of Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Sudan, as well as people who travel to those countries.
- Detainers: The bill does not include proposals that would defund or harm so-called "sanctuary" cities.
- DAPA/DACA:The bill does not include proposals that would block the Administration from continuing the operation of original DACA or defending the DAPA or expanded DACA programs in the ongoing litigation.
- Detention: The bill does not include language mandating the detention for all noncitizens who fall under enforcement Priority 1 and Priority 2 set forth in DHS Secretary Johnson's November 20, 2014, memo.
Congress is expected to vote on the bill later this week.