The prospect of Senate approval of an immigration bill has created more interest by some groups that have been silent thus far. One of those is the largest small business lobbying organization, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), which sent a letter to Senate leaders, raising certain ‘red flag’ issues they want considered. The new bill, if ultimately passed, will have a significant impact on employment immigration in California and nationwide.

The NFIB questioned the funding of a new Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research created by the bill, which would monitor worker shortages and adjust employment visa caps accordingly. The group pointed to the self-funding of the Bureau, with fees collected from businesses that hire low-skilled workers. The group objects to the Bureau’s ability to adjust fees on its own, without appropriate outside oversight, creating the possibility of spiraling fee increases.

The NFIB has generally supported the federal government’s E-Verify program, which allows employers to check the employment visa of job applicants. The E-Verify program is mandatory under the Senate immigration bill. The group has several concerns, including the program’s fee structure, fines and who would pay for mandatory E-verify training.

The group raised concerns about new costs, bureaucracy, and regulations placed on small employers under the bill. However, the group expressed basic support for the broad changes contained in the Senate bill. A poll taken by another small business group showed support for immigration reform by most small businesses.

It’s cautioned that the immigration provision coming out of the Senate must yet be approved in the House, where changes to the Senate version may be proposed. A California small business that has a particular issue with respect to employment immigration can get answers to its questions by consulting with an immigration counsel privately and confidentially. This can help a business take informed actions with respect to the opportunities that may be opened by a final immigration bill.

Source: The Washington Post, “Small business lobbyists raise concerns as immigration bill nears approval in Senate,” J.D. Harrison, June 25, 2013