In a big moment for thousands of permanent residency aspirants from India and China, a bipartisan legislation seeking to do away with the per-country cap on employment-based green cards has been introduced in the United States House of Representatives.
HR 3648, or the Equal Access to Green cards for Legal Employment Act of 2021, would phase out the 7 percent per-country limit on employment-based immigrant visas. The act would also raise the 7 percent per-country limit on family-sponsored visas to 15 percent.
“We all know that our immigration system is severely broken, and it has been broken for decades,” US Representative Lofgren, chair of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, said in her statement.
Lofgren (Democrat, California) introduced the bill along with US Representative John Curtis (Republican, Utah).
Silicon Valley-based immigration attorney Jay Terkiana, who has several clients who have been victims of the green card backlog, welcomed the bipartisan move.
“When employers hire candidates, especially H-1B holders, they hire them on the basis of competence and not on the basis of their ethnicity or nationality,” Terkiana told indica News.
“For promoting diversity, we have a diversity visa, which provides direct green cards to diversity candidates,” said Terkiana.
The employment-based green card process and the H-1B program were not created with the objective of promoting diversity, he pointed out. “Therefore it makes no sense to allocate per country limitation to the employment-based green card process,” he said.
“Per country limitations put Indian and Chinese nationals at a great disadvantage because these countries have relatively bigger populations and face huge backlogs, which results in Indian and Chinese nationals having to wait several years before they can get their green cards,” he said. “In a way this is discriminatory.”
“Basically, they are being penalized for being nationals of these countries,” Terkiana said. “When the employer hired them on the basis of their competence, it makes sense that the employment-based green card should also be issued on the basis of competence, and not on the basis of nationality and country of origin. I strongly support the removal of the per-country limitation rule,” Terkiana said.
“The basic framework for allocating immigrant visas dates back to the middle of the 20th century and was last seriously updated in 1990, when Congress established the worldwide numerical limits on visas and the 7-percent per-country cap that still exists today,” he added.
Todd Schulte, president of the pro-immigrant lobbying group FWD.us, said through a statement: “Eliminating country-specific limits and reducing the green card backlog are important steps in building back a fair, efficient, and humane immigration system. This bill would reduce decades-long wait times for aspiring immigrants and their families who have been living and working in the US for years, but are stuck indefinitely in the green card backlog simply because of their country of origin. It also improves oversight and clarifies requirements to ensure H-1B visas are used legitimately…”
Schulte added: “We support this legislation, and urge Congress to swiftly pass the bill and send this legislation to the President’s desk.”