Senate clears path to end country quotas, massive Green Card backlog for Indians

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Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. (Photo credit: Nimra Fatima)

The United States Senate unanimously passed the Fairness for High-skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, Dec. 2, 2020, moving another step forward to ending H-1B country quotas and the humongous backlog for Green Card applicants, an overwhelming number hailing from India.

The lead sponsors of this bill in the Senate were Senators Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Kamala Harris, D-California, now Vice President-elect.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, noted in a press release that the Act “would strengthen the American economy by reducing the wait time for those most impacted by the decades-long backlog for green cards.”

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The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, H.R. 1044/S.386, eliminates the per-country limits on employment-based visas and establishes a “first come, first served” policy while increasing the per-country limit on family-based visas from 7 percent to 15 percent, effectively ending nationality discrimination in the system.

As the bill has now passed the Senate, following last year’s passage of a House version, the chambers must reconcile their differences to both pass the same version to send to the President’s desk.

The differences between the House and Senate may not be resolved within the next few weeks of the administration so the process would continue to the next administration and for the next President to clear, in this case, President-elect Joe Biden, who has already hinted he would be undoing a number of restrictive immigration measures taken during the Trump administration.

“As an original cosponsor of this vital legislation, I’m glad to see senators from both parties came together to resoundingly pass the Fairness For High-Skilled Immigrants Act, to strengthen our economy and draw talent from across the world,” said Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, in a statement. “Ending nationality discrimination and leveling the playing field for high-skilled applicants, our legislation will keep families together while helping American companies retain top talent. I urge my colleagues and the President to take the final steps necessary to make these reforms a reality,” Rep. Krishnamoorthi added.

Immigration Voice, a national non-profit organization, which has spearheaded the bill and lobbied for its passing for years now, said it “is proud” to announce the unanimous and bipartisan passing of the 2019 legislation, which has been passed by the House in earlier times, but held up in the Senate.

A man exits the transit area after clearing immigration and customs on arrival at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, U.S., September 24, 2017. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan/Files

Immigration Voice has more than 30,000 members and advocates for the alleviation of restrictions on employment, travel, and working conditions faced by legal high-skilled immigrants in the United States working as doctors, researchers, scientists, and engineers at many of America’s Fortune 500 companies.

On July 10, 2019 the bill passed the House by a 365-65 margin. “The Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act creates a fair and equitable, “first come, first serve” system for receiving employment-based green cards, putting an end to the discriminatory quota system that has left over 1 million Indian high-skilled workers in the United States with a decades-long line while individuals from other countries face no wait time at all to receive a green card,” noted Immigration Voice in its press release.

“The Senate Bill has improved upon the House bill by adding more enforcement provisions to protect American workers and encourage their hiring over foreign workers,” Immigration Voice added.

“Immigration Voice is absolutely thrilled that after 15 years of tireless effort, the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act has finally received the unanimous support of every member of the U.S. Senate,” said Aman Kapoor, the co-founder and president of Immigration Voice, adding, “People are finally understanding that no matter what else is wrong with our immigration system, we can all agree that discrimination should never be a basis for deciding who is given access to permanent residency in the United States.”

Those advocating for the bill consider it a win-win for the American people.

“It will grow our economy by allowing highly skilled immigrants to start their own companies and will make sure that these new companies hire American workers who are made more attractive by this bill,” Kapoor contended.

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