US House passes bill removing cap on issuing green cards, H-1B visa holders benefited

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United States:he US lawmakers Wednesday passed a Bill aimed at lifting the current seven per cent country-cap on issuing Green Cards, a development which would benefit thousands of highly-skilled Indian IT professionals.

A Green Card allows a person to live and work permanently in the US.

Passed by the US House of Representatives, the Bill, on being signed into law, would considerably reduce the agonising wait for talented professionals from countries like India seeking permanent work and residency permits in the United States.

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.

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 per cent of such visas. The new Bill seeks to increase this seven per cent per-country limit to 15 per cent.

Similarly, it also seeks to eliminate the seven per cent 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 per centage 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 per cent of the unreserved visas, would be allotted to immigrants from any single country.

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.

Congressman John Curtis, speaking on the floor of the House, said the Bill will create a first-come, first-served system providing certainty to workers and families and enabling the US companies to flourish and compete in a global economy as they hire the brightest people to create products, services, and jobs, regardless of where they were born.

If President Donald Trump “is serious about merit-based legal immigration, he should help usher this bill into law,” said Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.

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.

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