Will Congress Eliminate Per-Country Limits on Employment-Based Visa?

This article addresses some of the latest developments that concern individuals who have lived through a decade-long immigration backlog, especially for individuals born in India and China.

The US immigration system in terms of the employment-based category works by focusing the immigration priority on chargeability, determined by the country of birth. Individuals born in larger countries are subject to a cap limit on the number of visas issued for individuals from that country. Presently the cap is 7.5 percent. This means that one country may only take up 7.5 percent of the visas available. Due to a large number of skilled workers from India and China, you have backlogs in employment-based categories.

Let’s talk about whether this proposed legislation will solve this issue and what this means for you and your family. Within the US, there are two legislative bodies,  the House of Representatives and the Senate. For a proposed bill to become law, both legislative bodies must approve it before being sent to the President; under current rules; the 100 member Senate requires a supermajority, 60 votes to pass a bill.

Zoe Lofgren, along with Republican John Curtis, recently introduced the “Eagle Act.” Unfortunately, immigration laws are challenging to pass, and to become law, any bill must gain the approval of the House of Representatives and receive support from democratic and republican senators. Thus while the “Eagle Act” (proposes an effectively phased-in elimination of country quotas) is being introduced, for it to become a law, it will need at least ten Republican senators to come forward and support the bill without coming up with a carve-out for China. This is because as soon as they craft out restrictions on Chinese immigration, you are going to have a considerable pushback from the House. This is due to historical precedents of discrimination toward Chinese in the United States as there used to be a racist law called the “China Exclusion Act” which is now criticized and considered a mistake.

As of now, 75% of the current employment-based immigration backlog comprises Indian-born applicants. In the current backlog situation, many Indian workers cannot get permanent residence and a green card within their lifetime. With the Eagle Act, per-country caps on employment-based immigration would be effectively removed. Countries with the highest number of applicants, i.e., India and China, will receive the maximum under the law for the first three years of 30% of all employment petitions. 

A concerning issue that may stall the proposed legislation is the rising level of anti-China sentiment among lawmakers. This may result in a poison pill within the legislation, where some of the more nationalist Republicans senators, might want to add an amendment in the bill, which may then receive disapproval from the democratic-controlled House of Representatives. Thus, this bill becoming law will likely depend on the ability of lawmakers to craft it in a way that would avoid adding controversial initiatives, such as anti-China language, into the bill.  

While introducing this bill early in the legislative term is encouraging, it still has a long march before it becomes law. Even if the bill passes this year, one will be looking at a two-year process for the account to be implemented to the degree that it has practical benefits. Seeking advice from a result-oriented immigration law firm such as Silmi Law can be favorable for you and your family. Silmi Law will help make sure that you are headed in the right direction and considering all available options.