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House Passes Budget Reconciliation Bill

The House, on 11/18/05, passed a $49.9 billion budget reconciliation package by a vote of 217-215. The two chambers will now form a conference committee to resolve differences between their respective bills. The conference could take place as early as the first week of December, when lawmakers return from Thanksgiving recess.

The Senate bill provides relief from the H-1B blackout and EB immigrant visa retrogression in exchange for increased fees on some petitions. Specifically, the Senate’s package would:

  • Impose a new $500 fee on immigrant visa petitions for the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 categories.
  • Recapture unused employment-based visas from prior years for immediate allocation of up to 90,000/year.
  • Exempt spouses and minor children from counting against the annual cap on employment-based immigrant visas.
  • Allow individuals to apply for adjustment of status before an immigrant visa is deemed currently available.
  • Recapture approximately 300,000 unused H-1B numbers dating back to FY 1991. As a result of an amendment by Senator Feinstein, 30,000 rather than 60,000 would be available annually.
  • Impose a new fee on the recaptured H-1B visas so that the fees on the original 65,000 H-1B allotment remain unchanged but the additional 30,000 available annually carry an additional $500 fee.
  • Impose a new $750 fee on L-1 visas.

The House version merely imposes a $1,500 fee increase on L visas without any attendant relief.

Your continued advocacy efforts are critical to ensure that the Senate’s proposal survives the Senate-House conference. Please send a letter to your legislators using the model letter available on Contact Congress. In addition, please urge your clients to FAX a letter to their lawmakers (on company letterhead) in support of the Senate’s proposal, using the Contact Congress letter as a guide. You can also look up congressional fax numbers.