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Immigration Programs Extended into 2017 by Congress

US CongressWith a new administration preparing to move into the White House in January 2017, bringing with it a decidedly different take on immigration policy from the outgoing administration, it seems safe to say that the current state of immigration law in this country is uncertain. Most immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs are based on legislation passed by Congress and implemented through rules and regulations created by the Executive Branch. Congress has allowed a short-term extension for several immigration programs through April 28, 2017, in the Further Continuing and Security Assistance Appropriations Act (FCSAAA) of 2017, Pub. L. 114-254 (Dec. 10, 2016).

The FCSAAA offers an excellent example of the complexity of both the government’s budget and its budgeting process. The bill amends the Continuing Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2017, Pub. L. 114-223, Div. C, 130 Stat. 908 (Sep. 29, 2016). That bill, in turn, authorized the appropriation of funds that Congress had already authorized in previous bills. Appropriations for immigration-related programs are mostly found in the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2016 (DHSAA), Pub. L. 114-113, Div. F, 129 Stat. 2493 (Dec. 18, 2015). Taken together, these bills extend funding for some immigration programs, including the following.


Federal immigration law prohibits employers from employing anyone who is not a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and who has not obtained authorization to work in the U.S. from the government. Employers must review certain documents presented by new hires to verify that they fit the criteria for work authorization, and they must maintain a record of this verification on Form I-9. Congress first provided for the creation of an electronic system employers could use to verify employment eligibility, commonly known as “E-Verify,” in legislation passed in 1996. See 8 U.S.C. § 1324a note.

Some employers, such as federal contractors, are required to use E-Verify, and the goal is to implement the system nationwide. Congress appropriated funds for the program through the end of fiscal year 2016, DHSAA, Title IV, 129 Stat. 2509, and has now extended funding through April 2017.

State 30 J-1 Visa Waiver Program

The J-1 nonimmigrant visa is generally available to “leader[s] in a field of specialized knowledge or skill” who are coming to the U.S. temporarily. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(J). It is also available to people who intend to “receive graduate medical education or training” in the U.S., id., and who meet various other requirements, id. at § 1182(j).

J-1 visa holders are generally barred from applying for an immigrant visa or to adjust their status to permanent residence, or from qualifying for an H-1B or L visa, unless they return to their home country for at least two years after their J-1 visa expires. Id. at § 1182(e). A waiver of the two-year requirement is available for a medical doctor sponsored by a state health department. Id. at § 1184(l)(1)(B). Up to 30 waivers are available for each state per fiscal year, giving the program its “State 30” name.

Immigration lawyer Samuel C. Berger represents employers in the New York City and Northern New Jersey regions, helping them petition for immigrant or nonimmigrant employment-based visas for their employees. Contact us today online, at (201) 587-1500, or at (212) 380-8117 to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our skilled and experienced team.

More Blog Posts:

Federal Government Expands Waiver Program for Certain People Deemed Unlawfully Present in the U.S., New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, September 8, 2016

New York City Human Rights Agency to Issue Certifications for U and T Visas, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, May 12, 2016

Proposed Regulations Would Clarify Rules Regarding Employment-Based Immigrant Visas, New York & New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Blog, January 28, 2016

Photo credit: Bjoertvedt (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons.