Proposed “Guest Worker” Legislation
July 25, 2003

John Cornyn, a Republican Senator from the State of Texas, recently introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate to allow “guest workers” from certain countries to enter the U.S., gain employment authorization for a period ranging from 1 to 3 years, and ultimately have a chance at lawful permanent residence following a 3 year period of service. At this point, this measure is only a proposal, and has yet to be debated or voted upon. However, the fact of its introduction is continuing evidence that politicians on a national level recognize the ever growing need to legally fill jobs in the U.S. that no U.S. workers are inclined to fill, and to provide legal status and a decent standard of living for those eager to fill those positions.

Highlights of the bill are as follows:

  1. Applicants must be citizens of a country with whom the U.S. has entered into a formal guest worker agreement, an agreement that would incorporate standards of enrollment such as arrangements for health care to be provided through the applicant’s home country, and mechanisms for monitoring the departure and return of such workers.
  2. Applicants both in and outside the U.S., including those living and working here without authorization, would be eligible for participation in the program, as long as there is an interested employer willing to attest to the unavailability of U.S. workers to perform the job at issue and that the salary being offered is at, or above, the prevailing wage for that position.

The annual allotment of guest worker visas will depend on a variety of economic factors, most notably regional unemployment rates.

Another interesting feature of this proposal is the establishment of individual worker investment accounts. In the proposed program, federal payroll taxes withheld from the worker’s salary would be held in an account that would be the property of the worker and managed by the Secretary of the Treasury. But the worker would only be eligible to gain access to these funds after he or she permanently departs the U.S. and returns to their home country.

Further details about this and any other important legislative proposal will continue to be featured in this column.

CIS Processing Times in Chicago and Lincoln, Nebraska


For the most recent processing times, visit CIS ( INS ) Processing Times.

Nebraska Service Center, Lincoln, Nebraska

Form I-129 – Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker (which includes professionals/specialty occupation workers (H-1B visa, etc), intracompany transferees, executives or managers (L visa), treaty traders/investors (E visa), artists/performers (O, P visa), religious workers (R visas): 60 to 90 days. However, with the payment of an additional filing fee of $1,000.00, these petitions will undergo “premium processing” and adjudicated in 7 to 14 days

Form I-539 – Application to Extend/Change Non-Immigrant Status (most often filed by tourists/visitors, B-1/B-2, and dependents of principal H, L, E, O, P and R visa holders seeking to extend their stays): 90 to 180 days.

Form I-140 – Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (most often, petitions for workers who have obtained labor certifications from the U.S. Department of Labor or precertified occupations such as for Registered Nurses and Physical Therapists): 90 to 180 days.

Form I-130 – Petitions for out of country spouses or children (under 21) of U.S. citizens: 1 year.

Petitions for all other relatives of U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents: 1 ½ to 2 years (although the “priority date accorded will be the actual filing date).

Form I-129F – Petition for out of country fiance of U.S. citizen: 6 months.

Form I-751 – Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (for alien spouses and children with conditional resident status, including joint filers and individuals seeking waivers): 12 months. NOTE: Where interviews for I-751 filers are deemed necessary by the INS – particularly in waiver filing cases, interviews at INS Chicago for this purpose are scheduled approximately 2 years from the date of filing.

Form I-360 – Petition for Amerasian, Widow/Widowers of U.S. Citizens and Special Immigrants (including immigrant religious workers): 4 months.

Please note that I-360, Self Petition for Battered Spouses of U.S. Citizens are filed with the INS’ Vermont Service Center (regardless of location of residence) and processing time is approximately 60 to 120 days.

Form I-589 – Request for Asylum (for individuals not in deportation proceedings): interviews at INS Chicago Asylum Office are being scheduled approximately 30 days from the date of filing.

Form I-131 – Application for Travel Document (Advance Parole for Employment Based Adjustment of Status Applicants): 90-120 days.

Form I-765 – Application for Employment Authorization Document (mainly for employment based adjustment of status applicants) : 60-90 days.

CIS – Chicago District Office

Form I-485 – Application for Adjustment of Status (for various individuals already in the U.S., seeking permanent residence – including qualifying alien spouses or parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents): interviews are being scheduled approximately 24 months from date of filing.

Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Document (mainly for family based adjustment of status applicants) : 90 days.

Form I-131 – Application for Advance Parole Travel Document ((to facilitate reentry into the U.S. if emergency circumstances require travel outside the U.S. while adjustment application is pending with INS Chicago): 45 days.

Form N-400 – Application for Naturalization (Citizenship): Interviews are being scheduled approximately 6 to 12 months from the date of filing with oath ceremonies scheduled for 1-3 months thereafter.

As to petitions or applications filed with Lincoln, Nebraska, the above processing times do not include the additional time an individual may face if he/she must appear at a U.S. consulate outside the U.S. to have their visa processed.

Finally, if an inordinate amount of time has passed without your particular filing being attended to, it is imperative that follow up inquiries be made with the office in question.

Copyright © 2003-2008, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois