Despite no significant legislative advances concerning immigration during his first two years in office, and an upcoming legislative session with a Republican majority in the House and increased Republican presence in the Senate, President Obama told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that he will continue to push for comprehensive immigration reform in 2011, reports Politico. Though the gesture was welcomed by caucus members, it remains uncertain whether Obama will find similar support in his own party given that many new, incoming legislators are veering to the right politically and pushing for more typically conservative initiatives like increased border control and enforcement. The President’s pledge came shortly after the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act), which would have provided six years of conditional permanent residency to certain undocumented minors who have completed high school and then join the military or attend college for at least two years, failed to garner sufficient Senate votes to overcome a Republican filibuster.
Beginning January 1, 2011, skilled and professional foreign workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will no longer need to obtain a no-objection certificate from their former employer in order to take a new position elsewhere, reports The National. Instead, the only requirement will be to obtain a visa stamp from the Ministry of Labour. The change is significant: previously, employers could refuse to issue a no-objection certificate, which forced workers to exit the UAE for six months before they could take a new position.
As for unskilled and semi-skilled workers, the employer’s consent is required for a worker to change jobs, but only during the first two years of employment. Also, the consent requirement is waived if the employer does not meet basic employment standards.Continue Reading...
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has released updated H-1B visa numbers for Financial Year (FY) 2011: 53,900 H-1B regular cap petitions and 19,700 H-1B Master’s Exemption petitions were filed as of December 17, 2010. Limitations for FY 2011 are 65,000 H-1B regular cap visas and 20,000 H-1B Master’s Exemption visas. In the past three months, 15,600 regular cap and 5,700 Master’s Exemptions petitions were filed.
On December 18, 2010, a cloture motion fell five votes short of the 60 required to break a Republican filibuster of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act). On December 8, the House of Representatives had voted 216 to 198 in favor of the measure, but the Senate vote (55 to 41) effectively killed the measure for this legislative session.
The DREAM Act’s future remains uncertain because Republicans, who mostly oppose the measure, will have a majority in the House of Representatives and a stronger presence in the Senate in the forthcoming 112th Congress. Some supporters of the DREAM Act, however, were encouraged by the measure receiving majority backing in the Senate, including three yea votes from Republicans [Bennett (UT); Lugar (IN); Murkowski (AK)]. The New York Times reports that Democrats hope to revisit the measure next session, believing bipartisan cooperation on the issue is possible.
UK High Court Strikes Down Temporary Cap on Non-EU Skilled Workers; December 22 Set as Deadline for Tier 1 (General) Applications from Overseas
On December 17, 2010, the UK High Court held that the Home Office’s temporary cap on the number of non-EU citizen skilled workers allowed entry to the UK was introduced unlawfully. As reported by the BBC, the High Court found that ministers had “sidestepped” Parliamentary scrutiny by implementing the measure without a vote. Due to this ruling, the temporary cap for two tiers of job applicants—which was intended to stay in place until the permanent cap takes effect in April 2011—is no longer in effect.Continue Reading...
With uncertainty surrounding immigration reform at the federal level, a growing number of immigration reform proposals are being made at the state level, many of which borrow measures from Arizona’s controversial SB 1070. Examples of recent immigration enforcement proposals include:
- A group of Republican lawmakers in Colorado, some of whom traveled to Arizona to learn more about its approach to immigration legislation, are discussing what should be included in immigration-related bills to be introduced in early 2011. One bill is expected to require Colorado employers to use E-Verify.
- In Florida, a senator has introduced a bill that would allow law enforcement officers—during a lawful detention or arrest—to ask for immigration documents if the officer suspects the detainee may be in the country illegally. The bill prohibits officers from using race as a reason for checking the detainee’s documentation.
- In Nevada, an assembly member has asked the state’s Legislative Counsel Bureau to draft a bill based on Arizona’s SB 1070; another assembly member has requested a bill requiring state employers to use E-Verify.
- Two senators in South Dakota are drafting a bill that would prohibit providing transportation or lodging to an individual known to be in the United States illegally. The bill also would prohibit illegal immigrants from asking for employment.
- In California, proponents of an SB 1070-style initiative have started collecting signatures in an effort to put the initiative on the February or June 2012 ballot.
The federal government has announced changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program to enhance the protection of temporary foreign workers. To learn more about the changes and their implications for employers, please continue reading at our collaborative blog, Global Employment Law.