The non-partisan Migration Policy Institute, a trusted source of news and information about U.S. and global immigration, posted this article that describes a number of important changes and updated to Federal Immigration Law:
One of the more interesting changes is the increase in the H2B visa program, for which I’ve long advocated. An H2B visa is a temporary visa for low skilled non-agricultural labor. It allows companies to fill seasonal needs for labor that the U.S. market cannot provide. It also requires workers to return to their home countries for a specified period of time before they can come back with a new H2B visa. This can help encourage those visa holders to re-invest their U.S. earnings in their home countries, like Mexico and Central America, thereby stemming the flow of illegal immigration.
The EB5 investor visa regional center program was also renewed with the passage of the spending bill. This program provides a pipeline for foreign direct investment into U.S. businesses which, by law, must create jobs as part of the investment – it cannot be a passive investment in real estate, for example. The EB5 is underutilized, in my opinion, because it could potentially attract much more foreign investment, which helps balance global trade, creates jobs, and increases U.S. tax revenue.
You can read about the other changes in the MPI story, especially regarding the enhanced security controls on the Visa Waiver Program. The fact that these were agreed upon in bi-partisan fashion may signal a new willingness of Congress to work together to pass sensible immigration reform in the future.