Every year, 140,000 Employment-Based (E.B.) The USA issues green Cards. The new Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act will remove the 7% per-country cap on these Green Cards, easing the massive processing backlogs – especially for Indians. The per-country cap on the number of family immigration visas issued annually has also been raised from 7% to 15%.
As of April 2020, there were 7.41 lakh EB-2 and EB-3 visa applications pending for processing. The estimated waiting period was 84 years. The new Act will allow the USA to address labor market shortages for software developers, physicians, and other high-skilled workers; and create a merit-based processing system. There are still some administrative hurdles to cross before the Act comes into effect.
Applications from India and China face the largest backlogs. To ensure that these two countries do not dominate Green Card allocation under US immigration norms, a percentage of the EB-2 and EB-3 visas for skilled workers and dependents have been reserved for applicants who are not from India or China. This reservation will be applicable for nine years after the bill is enacted.
For the first year, 30% of these visas will be reserved for applicants from countries not impacted by the backlog. For the second and third years, this reservation will be 25% and 20%, respectively. No more than 85% of the unreserved visas can be granted to applicants from any single country.
This establishes a first-come, first-serve system that is more equitable. The previous quota system was unfair to Indian applicants as more than 1 million Indian workers in the USA were faced with a decades-long waiting period. In contrast, workers from other countries faced no waiting period for a Green Card. The Act will help high-skilled immigrants to become entrepreneurs and also protect American workers.
Specific provisions of the Act encourage the hiring of U.S. workers over foreign workers. Within the initial nine years after enactment, a maximum of 70% of Green Cards can be issued to H-1B visa holders and dependents (except National Interest Waivers and medical professionals). After this period, the limit will be reduced to 50%. Companies that have 50% of staff working on H-1B visas or 50 or more employees in the USA will be barred from recruiting more foreign workers through H-1B.
Once the bill’s final version is passed by both houses and signed by the President, it will set the tone for a new – and hopefully, more just – skilled immigration system in the USA. To better understand accessible immigration programs across the world, trust the expertise of seasoned consultants at Abhinav Immigration Services.
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