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Indian professionals in US may get a visa breather

PTI Washington | Updated on July 11, 2019 Published on July 11, 2019

House of Reps passes Bill to remove 7% country-cap on permanent residency

The US House of Representatives has passed by an overwhelming majority legislation to remove the 7 per cent country-cap on green card applicants. The development could end the agonising wait of tens of thousands of skilled professionals from countries like India who have sought permanent residency.

The Bill, when signed into law, increases the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from 7 per cent of the total number of such visas available that year to 15 per cent, and eliminates the 7 per cent cap for employment-based immigrant visas.

Indian IT professionals, who mostly go to the US on H-1B work visas, are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system, which imposes a 7 per cent per country quota on the allotment of the green card, or permanent legal residency.

Overwhelming majority

The Bill, titled Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, or HR 1044, was passed on Wednesday by an overwhelming 365-65 votes in a 435-member House. It, however, has to be passed by the Senate, where the ruling Republican Party enjoys a majority, before it can be signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Decades-long wait

Lifting the per-country cap will mainly benefit professionals from countries like India, for whom the wait for a green card is more than a decade.

The Bill also establishes transition rules for employment-based visas from FY22 by reserving a percentage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability), EB-3 (skilled and other workers), and EB-5 (investors) visas for individuals not from the two countries with the largest number of recipients of such visas.

 

The passage of the Bill was welcomed by Indian professionals from across the US, particularly in 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. Top American IT companies also welcomed it.

“This (the Bill) promotes a fair high-skilled immigration system that’s good for business and our economy,” said Microsoft president Brad Smith.

Todd Schulte, President of advocacy organisation FWD.us, said: “This Bill will help ensure that those seeking permanent residency will not have to face extraordinary wait times — projected at 50 years or more for people from countries like India and China — simply because of their country of origin.”

Published on July 11, 2019
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