Labor unions and businesses have reached an agreement regarding a new bill designed to streamline the citizenship process for over 11 million illegal immigrants. Low-skilled workers in California and elsewhere have historically faced challenges in terms of fair wage and job permanency, but the changes to employment immigration currently being discussed would drastically alter the fate of immigrants awaiting official status. This bill is just part of a sweeping series of changes to American immigration law that will give rise to a work visa program designed to address low-skill worker needs.

Under the new worker program, it will be possible for currently-illegal immigrants to switch between jobs and even to apply for permanent residency. They will also be entitled to prevailing industry wages or wages paid to full Americans, depending on which total is higher. The visa program will be extended to cover a variety of occupations including everything from healthcare to hotel work, and will raise the cap from 65,000 to 200,000 per year.

The issue of wages for low-skilled workers has been a major setback for the application of this bill at the Senate level. Up until now, there has been dispute regarding the level of wages that should be paid, particularly to higher-skilled positions like construction. However, business leaders and the Chamber of Commerce are confident this week’s agreement will help to move the process forward.

Migrant workers in California have long been denied equal footing due to complications in the immigration process. It is hoped this bill, and the accompanying reformation of American employment immigration laws, will help to even the playing field for hopeful citizens. Given the speed with which these laws can change and develop, it is essential for potential citizens to remain knowledgeable about recent developments in the law that could affect them and their families.

Source: cbs8.com, “Business, labor close on deal for immigration bill,” Erica Werner, March 29, 2013