The Honorable Robert Goodlatte
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the
interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state
and local chambers and industry associations, and dedicated to promoting, protecting, and
defending America’s free enterprise system, writes to express concern with H.R. 5203, the “Visa
Integrity & Security Act of 2016.”
The Chamber applauds the Committee for focusing on the important issue of national
security in addressing the visa application screening process, and the Chamber was pleased to
see the inclusion of certain commonsense measures in the bill, such as calling upon the agency to
review social media and use advanced analytics software to proactively detect threats to our
nation. The Chamber was also pleased with the Committee’s willingness to address a number of
our concerns in a manager’s amendment. However, the Chamber remains concerned that some
of the provisions in H.R. 5203 would have a significantly negative impact on our members.
The proposal to implement a higher burden of proof upon our members to receive
immigration benefits is very concerning to the Chamber. Imposing this new, higher standard in a
top-down, one-size-fits-all approach would curtail the agency’s flexibility to make decisions in a
plethora of different immigration-related circumstances with the likely result of longer
processing times and increased denial rates. The Chamber does not want to diminish concerns
over the nation’s security, but an approach that better focuses on potential visa fraud and security
threats would be preferable, as it would focus more time and energy on potential threats. This
could include a thorough agency examination of all of its perceived weaknesses in the visa
vetting process and addressing those concerns in a targeted fashion, which the Chamber would
be willing to consider.
The in-person interview provisions are also worrisome. While the Chamber appreciates
the accommodations made in the manager’s amendment that would limit this requirement to
initial petitions only, the Chamber remains concerned about how these new requirements would
be implemented in practice. Enforcing this new requirement would presumably require a
considerable increase in resources, particularly human resources, in order for DHS to conduct all
of these interviews. In turn, that would entail a concomitant increase in costs to stakeholders.
Given that USCIS is a fee-based agency, the potential for a drastic increase in processing costs,
especially in the wake of the new USCIS fee schedule proposed earlier this month that
substantially increased several processing fees, injects another element of uncertainty for our
members and their employees. The costs of this proposal would be borne by all stakeholders,
and the Chamber would appreciate the opportunity to work with the Committee to find ways to
limit the potential impact of this requirement upon our members, including the possible use of
video teleconferencing to conduct these interviews.
Lastly, the DNA testing requirement is of concern to the Chamber. We understand and
appreciate the Committee’s concern with fraud, but without further clarification as to how this
requirement will be implemented, our doubts regarding this provision’s workability remain. This
provision could create additional costs for our members and their workers based upon the
structure of one’s family, particularly on whether the worker’s children are naturally born. This
potential disparity in treatment is troubling, and the Chamber would appreciate the Committee’s
willingness to address this issue moving forward.
Thank you for your attention to our concerns. The Chamber looks forward to working
with the members of the Committee, and the broader membership of the U.S. House of
Representatives, to improve this bill and help improve the federal government’s ability to
promote our national security interests.
R. Bruce Josten
cc: Members of the Committee on the Judiciary