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Senate’s New Border Bill Proposes Some Relief for Employment Based Immigrants But Unlikely To Become Law


On Sunday, February 4, 2024, the Senate unveiled a national security and foreign aid bill that would create additional border and asylum processing laws, provide counsel to certain migrants, help Afghan refugees stay legally in the United States, and expand work authorization to additional classes of legal immigrants within the United States. To become law, the bill must first be passed the Senate, then also be passed by the House of Representatives, and then be signed by the President. The border bill is already facing opposition from both parties (with House Speaker Mike Johnson proclaiming it as “Dead on arrival”), so its likelihood of becoming law in its current form is slim.

The proposed legislation does contain several provisions that would reform longstanding areas of immigration law and could affect a wide array of individuals seeking immigration benefits within the United States.

Key components of the bill relating to the employment-based immigration system propose to:

  • Expand Work Authorization to Additional Family Members of Lawful Nonimmigrants and U.S. Citizens – The bill proposes expanding work authorization to not only spouses of H-1B temporary workers in the United States (also known as H-4 dependents), but also potentially their adult children, provided the H-1B temporary worker has an immigrant petition filed. This would be a departure from current regulations, which only allow work authorization for H-4 spouses, but no other dependents such as children who are old enough to secure employment. Work authorization would also be issued to an additional 25,000 individuals who are K-1, K-2, and K-3 nonimmigrant visa holders, or fiancés or spouses and children of U.S. citizens. These expansions would be based on a policy of promoting family reunification and legal immigration within the United States.

  • Provide Statutory Protection to “Aged Out” Children of Temporary Workers and Long-term Visa Holders – The legislation also seeks to provide statutory protection for H-4 dependent children, who have resided in the U.S. lawfully based on their parents’ work visas, but who would otherwise “age out” of H-4 nonimmigrant status and run out of time to get a Green Card along with their families. The bill would afford protections to an H-4 dependent who lived in the U.S. lawfully as a child of an employment-based nonimmigrant for 8 years prior to turning 21, allowing that individual – even if married now or over the age of 21 – to secure work authorization and remain in the U.S. and get a green card with their parent(s). This provision would change current law, which states that if a child turns 21 and “ages out” while seeking an immigration benefit, they are no longer eligible to immigrate with their parent based on that parent’s petition and need to navigate the immigration system on their own.

  • Increase the Number of Immigrant Visas Issued – In addition to creating more opportunities for those in temporary nonimmigrant status, the border bill would also authorize the issuance of an additional 250,000 immigrant visas over the next five fiscal years – allocating 160,000 additional visas in the family-based categories, and 90,000 in the employment-based categories. However, it is important to note that these visas would still be subject to per-country numerical limitations, and so would only have a modest impact on current immigrant visa backlogs, particularly for nationals of India and China.

Despite encompassing a wide swathe of issues concerning foreign aid and national security, the border bill appears to fall short of both Republican and Democratic lawmakers’ demands for immigration reform. Several conservative Republicans have voiced concerns that the bill does not adequately increase border security or deter illegal immigration. There is also a concern of it raising taxpayer costs to provide counsel for asylum seekers. At the same time, many progressive Democrats have dismissed the legislation as too restrictive in its reworking of asylum and border regulations, particularly the executive branch’s ability to cease the inflow of migrants at the border. Therefore, the likelihood of it passing the Senate is unclear and its route to passing the House seems impossible.

Despite the bill’s uncertain future, it is a hopeful and encouraging sign to see that Capitol Hill is recognizing the importance of protecting certain classes of immigrants, such as H-4 dependent family members, and children of employment-based workers who would otherwise age out of receiving certain benefits, and to provide additional immigrant visas in the overly burdened legal immigration system.

Please contact your Klasko Law attorney with any questions regarding this client alert.

The material contained in this alert does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only. An attorney-client relationship is not presumed or intended by receipt or review of this presentation. The information provided should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed.

© 2024 Klasko Immigration Law Partners, LLP. All rights reserved. Information may not be reproduced, displayed, modified, or distributed without the express prior written permission of Klasko Immigration Law Partners, LLP. For permission, contact

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