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SHRM Advocates for Bipartisan Immigration Solutions to Workforce Challenges

immigration officer and applicant for work visa

SHRM launched its 2024 Workplace Immigration Campaign on Feb. 20, asking members of Congress to support bipartisan solutions to modernize employment-based immigration in the U.S.

SHRM research confirms that a majority of employers agree that the U.S. is losing out on talent because of its immigration system.

“We see a real opportunity for Congress to put policy over politics, support economic growth, fill crucial talent gaps and increase national security by passing employment-related immigration measures,” said Emily M. Dickens, chief of staff and head of public affairs at SHRM. “Some immigration-related issues are going to remain contentious, but employment-related reform is one area where we have found bipartisan consensus—and can do so again.”

SHRM will be calling on policymakers to enact the following bipartisan bills during the yearlong campaign:

​​​​​*The Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act, which seeks to improve the process for obtaining a visa and allows for additional waivers under the Conrad 30 Program. The program allows each state to sponsor up to 30 foreign medical graduates each year to remain in the U.S. after participating in a residency training program and serve in a designated shortage area.

“The Conrad 30 Program is vital to bring talent to medically underserved areas,” Dickens said. “By connecting qualified foreign medical graduates with health care facilities in medically underserved areas, those facilities will be better able to manage staffing shortages and serve local patients.”

*The SEASONAL Act, which allows governors to ask the federal government for additional H-2B visas for nonagricultural seasonal work, but with specific requirements.

“SHRM’s 2023 Workplace Immigration Research found that approximately 1 in 3 of organizations have seasonal or temporary influxes in their workforces that H-2A and H-2B visas address,” Dickens said. “The SEASONAL Act would allow employers to efficiently fill gaps in their seasonal workforce.”

*The H-2 Improvements to Relieve Employers (HIRE) Act, which makes improvements to the H-2 visa programs by streamlining the issuance of those temporary work visas, increasing the validity of H-2 visa petitions to up to three years and allowing interview waivers for renewals.

“The HIRE Act addresses system backlogs and works to prevent inefficiencies,” Dickens said.

*The Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act of 2023, which establishes several stopgap solutions and security measures in the asylum seeker process, balances the need for safety and security, and introduces efficiencies into the asylum system.
“This innovative, bipartisan legislation seeks to modernize the asylum process by providing a pathway for asylum seekers to obtain work authorization on an expedited basis,” Dickens said. “The current 180-day application timeline prevents qualified asylum seekers from contributing their talent to the U.S. workforce at a time when U.S. employers are competing for talent like never before.” 

*The Eliminating Backlogs Act of 2023, which creates a mechanism to recapture expiring and unused employment-based visas and make them available for issuance during fiscal 2024. This bill has the potential to significantly reduce the backlog of green-card wait times, providing much-needed relief to skilled immigrant workers who have been waiting for permanent residency for years.


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