E-Verify and Three Employment Visa Categories Set To Expire; May be Renewed
The E-Verify program and two employment visa categories are currently set to expire March 6:
E-VERIFY: This program allows employers to electronically verify their workers’ employment eligibility. General information about E-Verify is at http://www.dhs.gov/xprevprot/programs/gc_1185221678150.shtm. E-Verify is a pilot program. Absent a congressional extension, it will expire March 6, 2009.
Three other visa programs are also currently scheduled to expire March 6: (1) the special immigrant program for certain religious workers (EB-4); (2) the EB-5 immigrant investor program for regional centers; and (3) the Conrad state 30 program for certain J-1 foreign doctors working in medically underserved areas.
Efforts are underway to extend all four programs. An omnibus appropriations bill now pending in the Senate contains six-month extensions of the EB-5 and E-Verify programs. That bill is expected to pass by March 6. On March 4, 2009, the House of Representatives passed by voice vote H.R. 1127, a bill that would extend the religious worker and Conrad 30 programs through September 30. The measure now moves to the Senate for further consideration. It is unclear whether the Senate will be able to vote on H.R. 1127 before the sunset of the religious worker and Conrad 30 programs on March 6.
The State Department has issued advice on visa issuance for the EB-4 and EB-5 categories if Congress fails to extend those categories by March 6:
Employment Fourth Preference, Certain Religious Workers: The nonminister special immigrant program expires on March 6, 2009. No SR-1, SR-2, or SR-3 visas may be issued overseas on or after March 6, 2009. If Congress fails to renew the category by that date, visas issued before that date may only be issued with a validity date of March 5, 2009, and all individuals seeking admission as a nonminister special immigrant must be admitted into the U.S. no later than midnight on March 5, 2009.
Employment Fifth Preference Pilot Categories (I5, R5): The EB-5 immigrant investor pilot program expires on March 6, 2009. If Congress fails to renew the pilot program by March 6, no I5-1, I5-2, I5-3, R5-1, R5-2, or R5-3 visas may be issued after March 6, 2009.
The initial cut-off dates for the categories mentioned above have been listed as “current” in the State Department’s March Visa Bulletin. If these categories have not been extended based on legislative action, those cut-off dates will become “unavailable” effective March 7, 2009.