You can add Hollywood to the long list of industries and special interests securing carve-outs and favors in the Corker Amendment to the Senate immigration bill. Film studios and record companies already receive preferential treatment for visa applications. The Corker Amendment, however, goes even further and, in specific circumstances, waives any fees studios have to pay for these applications. These fees are used to underwrite immigration enforcement.
Under current law, celebrities, athletes and people of extraordinary ability can apply for a special visa, designated as “O” or “P” to enter the US. The USCIS, tasked with internal immigration enforcement, is required to process these applications within 14 days. The Senate immigration bill continues this preferential treatment. A new provision in the Corker Amendment, authored by VT Sen. Pat Leahy, however, would also waive all fees if these applications weren’t processed within 14 days. The fees are not insignificant and can total around $1,500. The fees are used to fund the USCIS’s immigration enforcement.
Sen. Leahy, it bears remembering, played himself in at least one recent Batman movie.
In the months after enactment of the Senate bill, the USCIS is likely to be flooded with both visa and provisional status applications. Rock stars and other celebrities will not only stay at the front of the application line, but will be financially protected if the flood of applications causes them delays.
There are possibly other special benefits for the film and recording industry tucked into the Corker Amendment. The 1,200 page bill was released late Friday, providing just around 72 hours for Senators and staff to digest its consequences before the Senate holds its critical vote.
The full impact of the Corker Amendment won’t be understood until long after the Senate has voted on the measure. Yet again, the Senate will vote on a bill “to find out what’s in it.”