S.386: Act To Eliminate Per Country Cap For US Green Card – Passed The Senate Vote

UPDATE: The US Senate has voted in favor of the S.386 The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act that will fast track green cards for scores of Indians stuck in a backlog.
The HR 1044, Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 was earlier put through a vote in the Senate and passed with 365 in favor and 65 against it. Having put through a fast-track process, this is the first step in the Fairness Act getting its final approval to eliminate the per country cap for Green cards. This is followed by the President’s approval, which does not have a date set up yet.
At a time when there is so much push back for all things immigration, the HR 1044, Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 comes in with a ray of hope for scores of legal immigrants who are stuck in long pipes of waiting for Permanent Residency. This Act was recently introduced in the US Congress and is awaiting a decision while many wait with bated breath to see if they will get some respite.

What is the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019?

This Act strives to eliminate the per-country limit for employment-based immigrants and raise the currently existing per-country limit from 7% to 15% for family-based immigrants when it comes to getting a green card. As per the current immigration policy, an applicant’s wait time to get this green card is determined by which country he originates from. These wait-times have exceeded more that 20 years for some, by which time he has retired from work while paying into social security all the while and not be able to utilize it when the time comes. If HR 1044 is approved, it will take effect from September 30, 2019 for Fiscal Year 2020.

What are the Features of the HR 1044, Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019?

  • The Act primarily wants to address the current backlog and reduce the wait times for permanent residency for legal immigrants be it employment based or family based.
  • If one already has an employment-based immigrant visa, he will not necessarily receive a visa later than if the bill had never been enacted.
  • Per the Act’s transition clause, different percentages of immigrant visas will be reserved for different categories like EB-2, EB-3 and EB-5 but not for beneficiaries from India and/or China.
    The provision is 15% in FY 2020, 10% in FY 2021 and FY 2022.
  • The Act proposes to increase the per-country limit on the family side to 15% from the current 7%.
  • This translates to 33,900 more family based visas from the original 25, 620, which is a jump of 15% of the 226,000 in the family preference alone.
  • The transition clause doesn’t apply to the family based visas.
    However, it would reunite U.S. citizens waiting the longest for their close relatives.
  • Primary Beneficiaries: MEXICO AND PHILIPINES – siblings and married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens with priority dates between 1995 and 1998.

What are the Pros and Cons of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019?

The Pros –

  • To increase the level of H-1B visas and employment-based green cards;
  • Address the severe backlog that currently exists and ease out the process to get permanent residency quicker.
  • This in turn brings in more skilled talent to the shores of the US making it more competitive in the global market.
  • Unite families who have been separated due to the long wait times.

The Cons –

  • Eliminating the per country limit could possibly bring in an onslaught of immigrants who would out-weigh the processing limits and backlog the system again.
  • The per country cap could be the only way the US can curb the heavy slant of immigrants coming in from any specific country. In order to keep it even keeled, having a per country cap could be imperative.
  • Eliminating the existing per country cap will possibly incline the distribution of this coveted visa in favor of the two dominating countries – India and China.

Last Word

The Act has a few more steps before achieving fruition. While it has a lot of support, the verdict is still out on its outcome. The Trump administration is supportive of bringing in skilled workers to the US but is not in favor of slanting this in any particular country’s direction. So the two – India & China – who supply the most skilled labor force to the US may still have to bite their nails until this actually becomes a law.