Previously published in In The News, USCIS New
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith's (R-Texas)
controversial "Legal Workforce Act" bill (H.R. 2885) is
winding its way through the legislative process. On Thursday,
September 15, the bill was submitted to the full House Judiciary
Committee for markup, which will continue on Wednesday, September
The act would require employers nationwide to use the USCIS
electronic "E-Verify" system instead of paper I-9s to
verify that job applicants are legally authorized to work in the
United States. The E-Verify system is currently voluntary for most
businesses and is used by only 4% of employers nationwide, although
some companies are required by state or federal regulation to use
the system. Public and private employers in Alabama, Arizona and
Mississippi are now required to use E-Verify, as well as employers
with federal contracts or subcontracts that contain the Federal
Acquisition E-Verify clause. Several other states, including
Georgia and Florida, require state agencies and contractors to
utilize the system. In May of this year the U.S. Supreme Court in a
5 to 3 decision in Chamber of Commerce of the United States v.
Whiting ruled that Arizona's law requiring employers
to use E-Verify was not preempted by the federal Immigration Reform
and Control Act.
While the bill has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
and the National Restaurant Association, among others, it has
generated substantial protest from critics (including AILA and the
ACLU) who maintain that the current E-Verify software is
ill-equipped to handle large-scale nationwide use and could result
in mismatches barring legal workers from employment. Government figures suggest
that errors in a mandatory E-Verify system could cause almost
800,000 American workers to lose their jobs incorrectly, and that
another 3.6 million will have to correct mistaken "illegal
Other critics contend that it will impose substantial costs on
small businesses in complying with the system with few benefits.
Preliminary indications are that the White House will oppose the
bill on the basis that any E-Verify requirement should be part
of a larger immigration reform plan.
The U.S. Department of State has released its June 2013 Visa Bulletin sets out per country priority date cutoffs that regulate the flow of adjustment of status and consular immigrant visa applications.
A comprehensive new Senate immigration bill includes provisions governing the award of nonimmigrant visas for highly skilled workers that are likely to adversely affect outsourcing companies that use a U.S.-based workforce made up primarily of foreign - generally Indian - workers.