U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a current member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, successfully fought to include several vital immigration programs into an immigration reauthorization bill that passed the Senate last night. Included in the legislation (S.3245) is a three-year reauthorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Program, the E-Verify Program, the Special Immigrant Nonminister Religious Worker Program, and the Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program. Hatch is lead sponsor of the religious worker program, which allows religious organizations to sponsor foreign nationals to travel to the United States to perform vital services in underserved communities. All of the programs are due to expire on September 30.
вЂњExtending these vital programs is critical to our stateвЂ™s economy and the values Utahns hold dear,вЂќ Hatch said. вЂњTodayвЂ™s action is an important step in allowing many who wish to serve some of the most vulnerable among us to continue to do so. I appreciate my colleagueвЂ™s hard work bringing this legislation to the floor and urge the House and President to quickly act.вЂќ
Programs included in S.3245:
Non-Minister Religious Worker Visa Program
The Non-Minister Religious Worker Visa Program provides up to 5,000 Special Immigrant Visas a year, which religious organizations can use to sponsor foreign nationals to come to the United States and perform vital services to people in some of the nationвЂ™s neediest and most underserved areas. The program enjoys widespread support among religious organizations.
E-Verify is an online and voluntary electronic verification system for employers to check the work eligibility of their employees.В Employers submit information provided by an employee that is verified with data maintained by the federal government.В Over 300,000 employers use the program, including the federal government, legislative branch and contractors.
EB-5 Regional Center Program
The EB-5 visa category grants 10,000 visas to immigrants who invest $1 million, or $500,000 in a financially troubled region, and creates at least ten U.S. jobs.В This legislation reauthorizes a program within the EB-5 visa category called the Regional Center Pilot Program that allows EB-5 investors to pool their resources to invest in a project within a financially troubled region.
Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program
The Conrad J1 program waives the 2-yr residence requirement under the J1 exchange visitor program for international medical graduates who have completed their medical education in the United States and choose to work at least three years in medically underserved areas.