A vital piece of the current federal immigration reform proposal is allowing highly skilled workers to remain in the United States with a visa. While reform is gaining traction in the halls of Congress, amendments to proposals may impact a number of people living in the Chicago area.

The idea behind granting work visas to highly skilled employees is to have them contribute their talents to the American economy and local communities. As is the case with any major legislative effort, there are competing ideas about how to best address this specific issue. A group of senators recently suggested that the cap for H-1B visas be doubled, raising the current number of visas issued to at least 110,000 annually.

Most of these jobs would be in the science and tech industries, which have tremendous opportunity for expansion with a larger pool of talent. However, certain labor organizations worry that the proposal would adversely affect the ability of Americans to obtain jobs. As domestic industry continues to innovate and US immigration law evolves, there is possibility for growth and more opportunity for everyone.

Interestingly enough, the Senate's bill already has considerations for certain concerns. There are specific procedures employers must follow when looking to hire immigrants on H-1B work visas. As such, if the proposal passes, it's likely that individuals looking to apply for the visa might need help ensuring that they have the paperwork needed to obtain legal status.

Beyond provisions for immigrants who have experience in specialized fields, there are many other important ideas at work in the immigration bill. In addition to including considerations for workers in low-skill industries, the senate proposal also includes a pathway to citizenship for many immigrants already living in the country.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Business, labor spar over high-skill visas in immigration bill," Caren Bohan and Rachelle Younglai, May 13, 2013