When one of India’s leading newspapers needed informed commentary on the Senate immigration reform bill, it turned to a leader in immigration with a world-class reputation: none other than Sheela Murthy, founder and president of the Murthy Law Firm.
In a recent interview with Dr. Narayan Lakshman, U.S. correspondent for The Hindu, Murthy commented extensively on proposed changes to the H1B and L-1 visa programs. [See Immigration Reform Brings Agony and Ecstasy, by Narayan Lakshman, The Hindu, 17.Apr.2013.] Amid concerns in India that the bill would not only increase fees for outsourcing firms that heavily depend on H1B and L-1 employees, but subject them to stricter regulation, Murthy told The Hindu that the new fees could help pay for border protection measures, a move necessary to gain political support for the broader package of immigration reforms.
Ms. Murthy highlighted the positive changes in the Senate’s proposal, which would boost the annual limit on H1B visas from its current level – 65,000 – to 110,000 per year, and increase the master’s cap to 25,000 per year. According to The Hindu, Murthy “explained that the increased H1B quotas could significantly relieve the pressure within the system that came from the long waiting times for visa processing related to the rapid exhaustion of the annual quota.”
Earlier this month, she told The Hindu that the H1B cap season closed in less than a week, with 125,000 applicants vying for only 65,000 available H1B slots; those who are not successful this year cannot reapply until next April, and would not be able to begin working here until October 2014. Expanding the H1B program in the manner proposed by the Senate would go a long way to remedy the mismatch between supply and demand.
That said, it’s too soon to predict how much of the Senate’s initial proposal will make it into a final bill on which all parties – Senate, House, and President Obama – can agree. In the mean time, various Senate committees and subcommittees will debate and amend the bill before it reaches the Senate floor for a vote. Once the House passes its version of CIR, representatives of both chambers will hash out their differences in a House-Senate conference committee. Only after both chambers pass an identical bill can the measure proceed to the President’s desk for signature, giving it the force of law. Much can change until that point, and it’s safe to say that much will. We will keep our readers informed as the process unfolds.
Copyright © 2013, SHEELA MURTHY. All Rights Reserved