Notwithstanding the years’ old gridlock in regard to immigration reform, some significant changes will take place on or before September 30th. It’s not that Congress has had an epiphany. Several important immigration laws will sunset on September 30th unless reauthorized by Congress. If Congress does nothing, four major immigration programs will come to an end: E-Verify, the Conrad State 30, EB-5 and the Special Immigrant Non-minister Religious Worker programs.
E-Verify is the mostly voluntary electronic employment eligibility verification program used by hundreds of thousands of US employers in conjunction with their I-9 employment eligibility verification of new workers.
The Conrad State 30 program allows each state and the District of Columbia to recommend up to 30 waivers per year of the 2-year home-residency requirement imposed upon J-1 physicians who have completed medical training in the US. In exchange for the waiver, the physician must practice medicine in a medically underserved area pursuant to state and federal guidelines. Conrad 30 waivers have resulted in countless medically underserved Americans having access to medical care that otherwise would not be available.
EB-5 is the employment creation visa that provides a path to permanent residence for aliens who invest $1 million or more in a new commercial enterprise which creates 10 or more full time jobs. There is an option for investment of $500,000 in a high unemployment area known as a “targeted employment area”. The EB-5 program has enabled billions of dollars in investment in the US and many thousands of new full-time jobs for US workers.
The Non-minister Religious Worker program is much more limited than the other 3 programs, but no less important for the religious organizations who rely on these workers.
These are major programs whose sunset would have such extraordinary implications. As such, it is unlikely that they will all sunset; however, there may be material changes. In anticipation of change, many potential EB-5 investors are filing their applications, many medical providers are seeking Conrad 30 waivers and religious organizations are petitioning for their currently eligible workers.
By September 30th, whether there is Congressional action or inaction each of these 4 immigration programs will be effected, resulting in their substantive change, simple reauthorization or termination.