CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, June 13, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 3636, the Oversee Visa Integrity with Stakeholder Advisories (O-VISA) Act, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 3636 was introduced on September 29, 2015 by Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA), and was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote on May 25, 2016.
H.R. 3636 amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to direct the Department of Homeland Security to provide the appropriate labor union and management organizations a copy of any decision made by U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services (USCIS) regarding a non-immigrant O-1 visa application. An appropriate labor union or management organization would include an organization that has submitted an advisory opinion.
The O-1 visa is a temporary visa for an alien who has “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics… and seeks to enter the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.” An O-2 visa is a temporary visa for an alien who “seeks to enter the United States [to] accompany and assist in the…performance” by an alien on an O-1 visa. Employers seeking O visas must satisfy a “consultation” requirement designed to protect American workers. When filing O-1 petitions, they must include a written advisory opinion, generally from a peer group or labor organization with expertise in the specific field.
According to the Committee, USCIS approves almost all of the O visa petitions it receives. However, it does not provide notice as to the outcome of adjudications to the organizations that provide advisory opinions. This lack of transparency has allowed petitioners who receive a rejection from one labor organization to seek an advisory opinion from a different organization, and even alter, forge, and fabricate organization letters in support of a new petition. The O-VISA Act ensures that organizations that provide such opinions learn the outcome of the cases for which they provide opinions, improving USCIS’s ability to detect fraud and abuse of the program.
According to the bill’s sponsor, “[t]he O-VISA Act is an important step to secure the O-Visa program by reducing fraud and protecting American jobs. This bipartisan bill would improve the ability to detect potential fraud and abuse, and in doing so, it will help ensure the integrity of the O-Visa program. All of this will come through leveraging the resources of the private stakeholder organizations meaning no taxpayer resources will be used. I was pleased the Judiciary Committee passed the O-VISA Act today. I look forward to its consideration by the full House of Representatives, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure the O-Visa program operates effectively.”
 See DHS Website, O-1Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement. Although O visas cover a wide range of the sciences, arts, education, business, and athletics, this bill only affects aliens seeking to come to the United States on O visas for movie and television productions.
 See Chairman Goodlatte Statement, “Goodlatte Statement at Markup of the O-Visa Act” May 25, 2016.
 See Rep. Walter’s Press Release, “House Judiciary Committee Approves Walters Bill To Tighten O-Visa Program” May 25, 2016.
The Congressional Budget Office(CBO) estimates enacting H.R. 3636 would have no significant cost to the federal government. Any such costs would be paid from fees collected by DHS and would be considered direct spending, so pay-as-you-go procedures would apply to the bill. The legislation would not affect revenues.
For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.