U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a current member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, praised the passage of an immigration reauthorization bill in the House of Representatives today. The legislation (S.3245), which passed the Senate in early August, includes several immigration programs Hatch fought to include -- 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 the 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.
"These lawful immigration programs contribute to Utah's communities and allow us to honor the principles we hold dear," Hatch said. "I appreciate the House voting to extend these critical immigration programs for another three years, and President Obama should quickly sign them into law."
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 nation'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. Employers submit information provided by an employee that is verified with data maintained by the federal government. 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. 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.