What is a W Visa?
The W Visa is the World Visa. The W Visa was initiated in 2004 by George W. Bush, in an effort to provide an unlimited work visa to any applicant worldwide, so long as no U.S. citizen wanted to take the same job. Bush had announced that immigration reform was a top agenda item, but the W Visa never reached application. Recent permutations of the W Visa are extraordinarily flexible, allowing workers to switch between different U.S. employers. This type of transferability does not exist under the current U.S. immigration regime. W Visa holders would also be able to apply for permanent residence—a green card—on their own.
The W Visa and the Comprehensive Enforcement and Immigration Reform Act
Senators Kyl and Coryn reintroduced the idea of a W Visa, or World Visa, in the CEIRA law (the “Comprehensive Enforcement and Immigration Reform Act of 2005”). CEIRA has received negative reviews for its amnesty provisions. Critics of CEIRA believe that the bill is a scheme to import new foreign workers and provide amnesty for illegal aliens. The bills also may provide new H-4A and H-4B visa categories. Some interpret these new visas to provide relief for aliens that have overstayed their work visa without authorization. Some interpret the new H-4A and H-4B visas to simply import aliens for three years, allow renewal for three years, and then provide a green card.
New reports of the W Visa
Reports of the W Visa have resurfaced because an immigration compromise involving the W Visa has recently cleared a major hurdle in Congress. The bill may legalize the stay of some 11 million unauthorized immigrants. The AFL-CIO (the U.S.’s largest labor union) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have reslated the W Visa to bring in up to 200,000 foreign workers to perform janitorial, hospitality, and construction jobs.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka stated that “we expect that this new program, which benefits not just business, but everyone, will promote long overdue reforms by raising the bar for existing programs.” The W Visa is aimed at low-skill jobs.
What the W Visa provides
Under current plans, the W Visa Program could start as early as April 2015, providing 20,000 visas at initiation, ramping up to 35,000 by year two, 55,000 by year three, and 75,000 visas by year four. Legislators hope that the W Visa’s allotment of permits would reflect demand reports from the immigration bureau.
Regarding the W Visa’s flexibility, the Legislators propose that entries and exits of W Visa workers will be monitored and tracked to ensure compliance with immigration regulations. Regarding applications for a green card, Legislators propose a point system to determine priority in granting permanent residency. Those applicants that have worked continuously for three years will gain priority. Other points include whether the applicant has an employer sponsor, whether the worker received promotions or pay increases during employment, whether the worker paid taxes, the worker’s English proficiency, the worker’s education, and the worker’s criminal background.
We will be waiting to see how the W Visa fits into the U.S. overall immigration reform in the coming year.
If you have any questions or require assistance with your immigration preparation, please do not hesitate to ask.
Miami International Attorneys, P.L.