It came as a good news to all highly-skilled Indian IT professionals after the US lawmakers passed a Bill aiming at lifting the current seven percent country-cap on issuing Green Cards.
Usually, a Green Card is provided to allow a person to live and work permanently in the US. Passed by the US House of Representatives, the bill, when signed into law, increases the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from seven per cent of the total number of such visas available that year to 15 percent and eliminates the seven percent cap for employment-based immigrant visas.
Titled the Fairness of High-Skilled Immigrants Act, 2019 or HR 1044, the Bill was passed by the 435-member House by an overwhelming majority of 365-65 votes.
According to India Today reports, as per the present system, out of the total number of family-based immigrant visas to be given by the US in a particular year, the people of a country can be given a maximum of seven percent of such visas. The new Bill seeks to increase this seven percent per-country limit to 15 per cent. Similarly, it also seeks to eliminate the seven percent per-country cap on employment-based immigrant visas. Additionally, it removes an offset that reduced the number of visas for individuals from China.
The bill also establishes transition rules for employment-based visas from FY 2020-22 by reserving a percentage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability), EB-3 (skilled and other workers) and EB-5 (investors) visas for individuals from other than the two countries that get the largest number of such visas. As per another provision of the Bill, not more than 85 percent of the unreserved visas, would be allotted to immigrants from any single country, reports India Today.
Before it can be signed into law by the US president, the Bill, however, has to be passed by the Senate, wherein the Republicans enjoy a majority. An identical bill sponsored by Senators Kamala Harris and Mike Lee are likely to be taken up soon. The Senate bill S386 currently has 34 co-sponsors.
The passage of the Bill was hailed by Indian professionals from across the US, particularly those from the Silicon Valley in California, Seattle area in Washington state, the Greater Washington DC area and the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security, however, has said it does not support the Bill. "This bill would do nothing to move the current employment-sponsored system toward a more merit-based system," said Joseph S Joh, Assistant Director and Senior Advisor in the Office of Legislative Affairs, Department of Homeland Security.