H.R. 1812/S.2663 (Partner with Korea Act)


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Partner with Korea Act (H.R. 1812/S.2663) (E-4 VISA)

Partner with Korea Act (H.R. 1812/S.2663) is a legislation introduced by Rep. Peter Roskam in the House and Sen. Johnny Isakson in the Senate, and cosponsored by thirty-six representatives from both parties. At first, this legislation seemed to be overshadowed by comprehensive immigration reform, but as soon as the possibilities of reform were exhausted, H.R. 1812 has been placed into the spotlight again. H.R. 1812 seeks to create a new visa category for Korean skilled workers with allotment for 15,000 workers. Traditionally, the United States provided special employment visas to nations that it ratified free trade agreements with. Singapore received 5,400 H-1B visa slots, Chile received 1,400, and Australia received 15,000 slots along with a new visa category (E-3). However, Korea did not receive this benefit so Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE) has started a grassroots lobby campaign for this measure. As a result, the legislation is currently referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.


What are the Differences between the E-4 and the H-1B Visas?


No limitation on the duration of stay

The H-1B visa allows a skilled worker to work in the United States for six years. After the allotted six years, the worker must reside in a foreign country for a year to be able to work in the United States again for another six years. This limitation creates various difficulties for the worker especially when combined with the application for Permanent Residence. However, the E-4 visa, as with other E-series visas, has no limit on the duration of stay. As long as the employment status and the requirements of the visa are met, the worker can reside in the United States indefinitely. This allows the worker more time to prepare for a change of status such as applying for Permanent Residence.


E-4 Allows the Spouse to Work

The current statutes of the H-1B visa allow the worker to bring his/her family to the United States. However, the accompanying family members (with H-4 Visa) cannot legally work. Therefore, the family was only allowed to subsist on the income of the skilled worker. However, the E-4 visa allows not only the worker to bring his/her family over, but allows employment to the spouse as well. The benefits of the E-4 visa compared to the H-1B are evident.


Low Application Fee

In order to request the H-1B visa, the employer must make allowances for other fees that may be incurred along with application fees payable to USCIS. Depending on the employer, charges from $1,250 to $4,500 will incur. For the E-4 visa however, there are no additional fees; only the application fee will be necessary. This is very cost-efficient on behalf of the employer.


What Are the Benefits for the Korean American Community?


Hiring Skilled Workers from Korea is Easier

Currently, in order for a Korean American company to hire workers with Korean nationality, the employer must apply for the H-1B visa on behalf of the invited worker. However, the H-1B visa has a quota of 65,000 people every year. For the first time since 2008, visa applications were accepted on a lottery basis in 2013. Consequently, many employers were not able to hire workers who have completed the employment processes just because of the visa. If the E-4 visa category is instated for Korean skilled workers with the quota for 15,000 people, Korean American businesses need not worry about the quota and employ the people they need.


Korean American Community’s Economy Gets Bigger

Since the Korean community in the US is an immigrant society, a constant flow of immigrants is crucial to its development. According to the 2010 US Census, over two-thirds of the Korean population’s increase was done through immigration. If 15,000 E-4 visas are slotted every year, this means that 15,000 new households will be able to move to the US. The migration of households means that a significant number of immigrants and business will be brought to the Korean American community. This in turn will increase the Korean American community’s economy compared to that of other immigrant groups.


More Power to Korean Americans in Mainstream America

Power in the mainstream American society is something that is connected to the number of Korean Americans. Most workers with the E-4 visas will gain permanent residence and settle in the United States. This will greatly increase the number of Korean Americans, thereby increasing the power of the Korean American community overall.


Click this link for the text of H.R. 1812

Click this link for the text of S2663


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