President Signs Visa Reauthorization Bill

Legislation reauthorizes E-Verify program for three years

By Theresa Minton-Eversole Oct 1, 2012
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President Barack Obama has signed legislation (S. 3245) that extends key requirements of four immigration programs, including E-Verify, administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The legislation, signed Sept. 28, 2012, also reauthorizes the EB-5 Regional Center program, the Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker program and the Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver program until Sept. 30, 2015.

The U.S. House of Representatives sent the bill to the President Sept. 13, 2012, after passing it by a vote of 412-3.

E-Verify is a free, Internet-based service that enables employers to electronically verify that newly hired employees are authorized to work in the United States by voluntarily comparing information from an employee’s Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 to data from U.S. government records. More than 300,000 employers use the program, including the federal government, legislative branch and contractors.

“SHRM and its members are fully committed to hiring only work-authorized individuals and believe that an extension of the E-Verify program is a step in the right direction,” said Mike Aitken, vice president of government affairs for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), following the House’s action. “We also recognize, however, that the current employment verification system is in need of real reform. That is why we are pleased to see that Congress included language in the extension to explore the use of identity authentication approaches through the E-Verify program and to encourage the seamless integration of an electronic I-9 into E-Verify to create a simplified electronic verification process.”

Other Affected Visa Programs

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administers the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as “EB-5,” created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under a pilot immigration program first enacted in 1992 and regularly reauthorized since, certain EB-5 visas are set aside also for investors in regional centers designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.

The Conrad State 30 J-1 program waives the two-year residence requirement under the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program for international medical graduates who have completed their medical education in the United States, and chosen to work at least three years in medically underserved areas.

The Non-Minister Religious Worker program provides up to 5,000 special immigrant visas each year; religious organizations use them to sponsor foreign nationals to come to the United States and perform vital services to people in some of the nation’s neediest and most underserved areas.

Theresa Minton-Eversole is an online editor/manager for SHRM.​

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