One third of the visas would be reserved for businesses that employ fewer than 25 people, while no more than 15,000 visas per year would go to construction workers, the AFL-CIO said.
A new government department, the Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research, would determine specific industries with labor shortages and make recommendations to Congress. The agency would also play a role in setting an annual cap for W visas. The bureau would fall under the existing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and its director would be appointed by the president and confirmed by Congress.
"The beauty of this program is that it rises and falls with the economy," the AFL-CIO's Ana Avendano recently told CNN. "When the economy is booming, there will be more visas available for foreign workers. When it's not, there won't be, and that's something we've never seen in the United States before."
Randy Johnson, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, released a statement declaring the proposed new visa program "a sound and workable program for the business community."
The Gang of Eight may be ideologically diverse, but that doesn't mean there won't be significant resistance to the plan once it's released -- especially among wary conservatives. GOP base voters remain vehemently opposed to any plan which could be construed as amnesty for those who entered the country illegally.
Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, remain concerned that conservatives will never agree the country's southern border is secure, and will try to use that issue to continually deny citizenship to undocumented residents.
In the Senate, Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions and others have repeatedly expressed the fear that Democratic leaders will try to ram the Gang of Eight's plan through before other members have a chance to properly consider the bill.
Top Democrats "want Congress to pass a far-reaching bill before the American people know what's in it," Sessions said in a statement released April 2. "Now that the special interests have what they want, the deal has been made: Force it through and set the public interest aside."
Rubio has also said he's worried the legislation may be rushed through Congress -- a concern some observers say reflects political necessities as the Florida freshman balances his role in immigration reform with possible presidential ambitions.
Responding to GOP pressure to release details of the secretive Gang of Eight deliberations, Rubio promised Friday to brief his fellow Republican senators on Tuesday.
"This proposal will be a starting point," Rubio wrote to four GOP colleagues. "I expect you will have ample opportunity to review, comment, and amend as you see fit."
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, who will oversee the committee-level markup of the bill once it's released, has repeatedly dismissed Sessions' and Rubio's concerns.
The Judiciary Committee "has already held several widely-attended hearings to examine the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform," Leahy said in an April 2 statement. "If we do not act quickly and decisively we will lose the opportunity we now have."
Leahy said he hopes for a final Senate vote by this summer.
A House alternative
While most eyes are focused on the Senate, a bipartisan group of House members is working on its own version of immigration reform. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters last month that the members are "essentially in agreement" on a plan to deal with the issue.
The House members involved in the talks are Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Florida; Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas; Rep. John Carter, R-Texas; Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho; Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-California; Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois; Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California; and Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky.
The members of the House group have been reluctant to talk publicly about their bipartisan negotiations. Some of them have been working on the issue since Congress failed to get a deal done in 2007.
However, two members of the House "Gang of Eight" sounded confident Sunday that their upcoming proposal will ultimately mesh well with the Senate's proposal, despite expected battles over the issue in both chambers in the months ahead.
"I am very, very optimistic that the House of Representatives is going to have a plan that is going to be able to go to a conference with the Senate in which we're going to be able to resolve differences," Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, said on CNN's "State of the Union."
He was joined by his Republican colleague Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.
Asked if the House version would have a similar border security prerequisite, the two House members seemed less certain.
"You can't have a bill without border security. You just can't," Diaz-Balart said.
Pressed further on whether that provision would be a priority, Gutierrez said, "I think we can do this simultaneously."