A bipartisan bill proposing major reforms to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is gaining traction in Congress. If signed into law, H.R. 392, or “The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017,” would eliminate the current per country numerical cap for employment-based immigrants and increase the per country limitation for family based immigrants from 7% to 15% of the total number of family-sponsored visas.
The bill’s lead sponsor, Representative Kevin Yoder (R-KS), was recently interviewed by Forbes Magazine. Describing the problem that the current immigration system has created, Representative Yoder states in pertinent part:
“Due to an arbitrary per-country cap in the employment-based green card laws, immigrants who come here legally on work visas from India or China face a massive backlog for obtaining their permanent residence. Of the 140,000 green cards we give out each year in this category, only about 9,800 can go to immigrants from any one particular nation. The problem is there are anywhere between 700,000 and 2 million or more immigrants here from India. So if you do some simple math, you’ll realize many of these individuals will go their entire lives without ever getting their green card. Whereas, there are individuals who come here from other smaller nations that can get one in a matter of two to three years.”
Representative Yoder and the 288 Co-Sponsors of H.R. 392, which include Representatives from across the political spectrum, have pinpointed a policy adjustment to our current immigration system which would advance principles of fairness and equity in freeing individuals from high-skill countries, which Yoder argues include India and China, to be considered on a first-in first-out basis, rather than being handicapped at the outset by the current statutory caps, due to their national origin.
Notably, however, the bill would upend expectations for the EB-5 visa, where China’s dominance of the program has led to a significant backlog. If enacted, all visa applicants would likely retrogress.
Despite H.R. 392’s Bipartisan appeal, significant political hurdles remain. Congress faces a full plate of issues, such as finding a solution for those affected by the end of DACA, and non-immigration issues dominating headlines. It remains to be seen whether this legislation will be brought to a floor vote or enacted.
Immigrating to the United States is a complex and time-consuming process. New legislative adjustments, such as H.R. 392, while potentially valuable, do create additional uncertainty. If you plan on beginning this process, consider the value added by utilizing an experienced immigration attorney and contact the offices of Green & Spiegel U.S. to review your case.