House bill would remove per-country caps on employment-based green cards

12 Jan 15


A bill introduced Jan. 8 in the U.S. House of Representatives proposes to eliminate the per-country numerical limitations for employment-based immigrants. H.R. 213, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2015, was introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and co-sponsored by two outspoken immigration advocates, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho.

Under current law, no more than 7 percent of green cards can go to foreign nationals from a single country, meaning that significant backlogs always exist for countries with high demand, such as India and China. The proposed bill would strike the 7-percent rule and enact a first-come first-served system that would not take into account country of origin. There would be no increase in the overall number of green cards available to employment-based immigrants. In addition, the bill would increase the per-country numerical limitation for family-based immigrants from 7 percent to 15 percent of the total number of family-sponsored visas.

The bill will now move to the House Judiciary Committee for review. H.R. 213 echoes prior versions of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, which was originally introduced in 2011 and reintroduced in 2013. In 2011, it passed in the House before dying in the Senate after an amendment was added by Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, that would have increased Labor Department oversight on the H-1B Labor Condition Application process. The future of the bill is uncertain and may be affected by piecemeal immigration measures, which are expected to be introduced in the days and weeks ahead and which could override it.

BAL is paying close attention to all legislative developments in Congress as the new session begins and we will continue to provide updates as additional information becomes available. For more frequent updates and news, follow us on our BAL Government Affairs twitter page.

For additional information or questions:

Lynden Melmed, Partner
Washington, D.C.
Direct: 202.842.5830

Christiana Kern, Legislative Analyst
Direct: 202.842.5831

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