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house Bill H.R. 1044

Should Per-Country Immigration Limits Be Lifted?

Argument in favor

The current immigration system of “per country limits,” in which citizens from a given country can’t receive more than 7% of all visas issues in a given year, significantly disadvantages workers from populous countries such as China and India.

Yogesh's Opinion
···
02/22/2019
This bill will give some hope to people who are waiting since decades due to GC backlog. a) It is discriminatory to allocate GC to one person in 6 month to 1 year and others not even in decades. b) It is highly unfair for high skilled immigrant. c) It will also help to reduce some of the malpractices in industry as employers will no longer to misuse long waiting GC candidate d) Other side it will help increase American employment as person who stayed here for many year definitely will invest in business that will generate more employment for Americans. e) Many company are either moving their project base to other country or moving jobs to offshore as they are not able to get high skilled or qualified candidates this bill help to keep those jobs local and it will eventually help American to get hired as company base remain in US. f) there will be overall increase in tax collection: currently many spouses are unable to contribute to American economy due to uncertainty related to GC backlog, these spouses will be able to contribute to American economy and increase tax collection. g) Increase Safety for American: Allocating GC for person who is lawfully staying in US for many years will increase safety vs allocating GC to person who is in the country only for 6 months to 1 year. Finally it all depends on the perspective how you take it.
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Tabs's Opinion
···
02/21/2019
It s very disheartening to see the number of years of wait to finally be able to get the residency in a country where we are spending our very crucial years of life. Just because of the fact that someone is from India shouldn't deter them from getting their green cards and keep waiting until not sure when. The per country limit needs to be removed and equal chances are to be given to all skilled workers, then only the nation would become even more successful.
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TheAudDoc's Opinion
···
02/09/2019
This is an important step towards fairness to those foreign nationals already present in the US and working on an H1-B. The green card backlogs are a nightmare and the USCIS freezes are not helping either. My EB-1 application is in a limbo because of an apparent freeze on new I-485 applications until October2019. Dr. Deshpande
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Argument opposed

Per-country caps are a reasonable way of ensuring immigrants from around the world have a chance to come to America. Ending the per-country cap could open the door for immigration to skew towards more populous countries.

Jennifer suet's Opinion
···
02/11/2019
This bill does not solve the backlogs in a fair way. Currently, each country has an equal percentage share of the annual immigrant visas for employment-based petitions. Foreign nationals from India and China are facing backlogs for their green cards because they oversubscribed their annual quotas. By eliminating the per-country quota system, Indian and Chinese nationals will simply use up the annual allotment of immigrant visas currently allocated to other foreign nationals. It will unfairly penalize nationals from countries other than India and China who will no longer find an immigrant visa immediately available despite their approved petitions. The majority of immigration lawyers oppose this bill out of a sense of fairness; those with predominantly Indian and Chinese clients acknowledge the conflict. I have a mixed client base and my motto has always to provide first-rate service to each applicant regardless of which country he or she comes from (I don't deliberately cater to foreign nationals from countries with higher immigration rates to the US). The bill sponsor, Rep. Lofgren, comes from a district where her constituents include a high number of Indian and Chinese visa applicants in the high tech field.
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Saman's Opinion
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02/21/2019
It destroys the diversity in the tech industry.
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Hristo's Opinion
···
02/21/2019
This bill will not solve the backlog, as it advertises. Instead, it would transfer the burden of India to every other country in the world. Right now the system works for all countries, except India. It would be unfair to punish all countries, so that India can get even more green cards and dominate the GC program, the same way it unfairly dominates the H1b program.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
  • The house Passed July 10th, 2019
    Roll Call Vote 365 Yea / 65 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Immigration and Citizenship
    IntroducedFebruary 7th, 2019

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What is House Bill H.R. 1044?

This bill would eliminate per-country percentage caps in the employment-based green card system and increase the per-country numerical limitation for family-based immigrants from 7% to 15% of the total number of family-sponsored visas. Under current law, the per country caps have created a backlog of would-be immigrants from more populous countries. This bill would also remove an offset that reduce the number of visas for individuals from China.

This bill also establishes transition rules for employment-based visa from FY2020-FY2022, 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 numbers of recipients of such visas. Of the unreserved visas, no more than 85 percent would be allotted to immigrants from any single country. This rule would be phased in as follows: in FY 2020, 15 percent of EB-2, EB-3 and EB-5 visas would be reserved for beneficiaries not from the two countries with the largest numbers of beneficiaries of such visas. In FY 2021 and FY 2022, that figure would be 10 percent. 

This bill includes a "do no harm" provision that ensures that every person currently in line for a green card has the same or better wait time after this bill is passed.

This bill would not change the number of family or employment-based green cards issued each year.

Impact

Highly-skilled immigrants; family-based immigrants; and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1044

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to alter the per-country limits for employment-based immigrants so that all people are treated equally, regardless of their country of birth

“We all know that our immigration system is severely broken, and it has been broken for decades. At the heart of this broken system are the outdated employment- and family-based immigration systems, which suffer under decades-long backlogs. In combination with the per country limits, these backlogs keep nuclear families apart for decades, while preventing U.S. employers from accessing and retaining the employees they need to stay competitive.  The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act begins to address these problems and makes the immigration system somewhat more rational.  It is a small, but good step forward.”

Last Congress, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced this bill to fairly reward high-skilled workers in countries where they are long visa backlogs:

“I think we’re failing the people trying to come here legally and lawfully. Those are the people that suffer… [and] if you’re from India or China or Mexico, we often bump up against this cap literally within the first few days of a calendar year.”

In July 2017, after Rep. Chaffetz’s retirement, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) became the bill’s lead sponsor, after previously being an original cosponsor:

“I’ve always said that our nation is a nation of immigrants, as well as a nation of laws. This legislation strikes the perfect balance by achieving significant reforms of our employment-based green card system, helping American companies hire high-skilled immigrants to help grow our economy. Importantly, our bill helps them do it through the proper legal channels – the right way – which are all too often forgotten in debates over border security and illegal immigration. And it helps the many immigrants who are already living and working here on temporary visas obtain permanent residence they’ve earned through hard work and dedication to our country and its values, raising their families and children as Americans right here in our communities.”


Aman Kapoor, Co-Founder and President of Immigration Voice, calls this bill a "win-win for the American people":

"The Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act is a win-win for the American people. It would help to grow our economy by allowing highly skilled immigrants to start their own companies and hire American workers.  And, it will finally remove the last vestiges of discrimination from our high-skilled immigration system.  We are incredibly grateful Chairwoman Lofgren and Ranking Member Buck for their leadership and are confident that this will be the year the bill will pass.”

Compete America and FWD.us support this bill. FWD.us’ President, Todd Schulte, said last year:

“Under the current system, no more than 7 percent of employment-based green cards are conferred to highly-skilled workers from any one country. The proposed bill would make it possible for the United States to continue attracting the best and the brightest scientists, engineers, architects and researchers without discriminating against applicants because of where they were born. H.R. 392 is a sensible step toward building a targeted high-skilled immigration system that will help us win the global race for talent, create millions of American jobs and boost wages for the middle class in the 21st century economy.”

Writing for Foreign Policy, Maziar Motamedi, a Tehran-based journalist, argues that this bill would harm highly skilled immigrants from smaller nations, such as Iran

"[This bill would] prove a boon almost exclusively to employment-based immigrants from India and China; smaller countries will suffer... Proponents mainly argue that removing the per-country numerical cap can solve a major backlog problem that is exacerbated by the country caps and adversely affects Indian employment-based immigrants the most because so many of them are seeking permanent residency. More than 306,000 Indians and 67,000 Chinese immigrants were waiting in the employment-based green-card queue, according to USCIS figures reported in May. If it becomes law, the bill will most probably mean that the majority of employment-based green cards issued in the next decade will go to people from India... H.R. 392 means systemic bias toward employment-based immigrants from every other country. Yes, there is no denying that the current system is very hard on legal working immigrants from India, and to a lesser degree China, who are forced to wait for long periods... However, if the majority of employment-based green cards issued in the next decade go to people from India and China, it will mean easing the burden on one or two countries by transferring it onto the shoulders of thousands of immigrants from dozens of other countries, which hardly seems like a fair and logical solution. U.S. lawmakers would be better advised to pursue wider immigration reform that does not brazenly punish one or several groups to the benefit of others."

Invest In The USA (IIUSA), an EB-5 regional trade organization, notes that this bill would likely harm the EB-5 investor program. According to IIUSA's data, the elimination of per-country caps for EB-5 would eliminate any new EB-5 economic development investment in the U.S. for at least 10 years. IIUSA's executive director, Aaron Grau, says:

“While the elimination of per-country caps may make sense for some categories, the elimination of the per-country cap for EB-5 will be to the detriment of the [EB-5 immigrant investor] program. In the past year alone, the EB-5 program is responsible for over $3 billion in new economic development and over 100,000 jobs in the United States. Not excluding EB-5 from this proposal will put this type of new investment at risk."

NumbersUSA, the nation’s largest interest group that supports reduced levels of immigration, hasn’t taken a position on this bill’s previous iterations since it will not change overall immigration levels.

This bill has 224 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 154 Democrats and 70 Republicans. A Senate version of this bill, introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), has 21 bipartisan cosponsors, including 12 Republicans and nine Democrats.

In the 115th Congress, this bill had 329 bipartisan cosponsors, including 176 Democrats and 153 Republicans, but didn't receive a committee vote. A Senate version of this bill in the 115th Congress, sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), had 20 bipartisan cosponsors, including 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans, and also didn't receive a committee vote.

An identical version of this bill passed the House during the 112th Congress with a bipartisan vote of 389 to 15. Subsequent versions were introduced in the 113th (HR 633) and 114th (HR 213) Congresses, but didn’t receive a vote.

This bill has the support of Immigration Voice, New American Economy, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), the Republican Hindu Coalition, Compete America, Skilled Immigrants in America, and large tech companies, including Microsoft, Texas Instruments, IBM, Amazon and Bangalore-based tech-giant Infosys.


Of Note: Under the current immigration system, immigrants from any one country can claim no more than 7% of the 140,000 employment-based green cards issued annually to foreign nationals working in the U.S. This significantly disadvantages immigrants from larger countries that more immigrants come from.

For example, China (population 1.3 billion) and India have large backlogs of workers wishing to immigrate to and work in the U.S., but they have the name visa caps as countries such as Iceland or Estonia (population 1.3 million), which have both much smaller populations and far fewer citizens seeking to immigrate to the U.S.

The net effect of this is that immigrants from India and China can face decades-long waits, averaging 2-3 times the wait times for immigrants from other countries, for green cards, and many have to return home because they can’t get permanent residency; meanwhile, countries such as Iceland and Estonia never come close to reaching their visa limit caps. By some estimates, Indians applying for green cards today could wait for 150 years or more for green cards that they've already earned, simply because many Indians are already employed in the U.S.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: brazzo / iStock)

AKA

Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019

Official Title

To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate the per-country numerical limitation for employment-based immigrants, to increase the per-country numerical limitation for family-sponsored immigrants, and for other purposes.

    This bill will give some hope to people who are waiting since decades due to GC backlog. a) It is discriminatory to allocate GC to one person in 6 month to 1 year and others not even in decades. b) It is highly unfair for high skilled immigrant. c) It will also help to reduce some of the malpractices in industry as employers will no longer to misuse long waiting GC candidate d) Other side it will help increase American employment as person who stayed here for many year definitely will invest in business that will generate more employment for Americans. e) Many company are either moving their project base to other country or moving jobs to offshore as they are not able to get high skilled or qualified candidates this bill help to keep those jobs local and it will eventually help American to get hired as company base remain in US. f) there will be overall increase in tax collection: currently many spouses are unable to contribute to American economy due to uncertainty related to GC backlog, these spouses will be able to contribute to American economy and increase tax collection. g) Increase Safety for American: Allocating GC for person who is lawfully staying in US for many years will increase safety vs allocating GC to person who is in the country only for 6 months to 1 year. Finally it all depends on the perspective how you take it.
    Like (205)
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    This bill does not solve the backlogs in a fair way. Currently, each country has an equal percentage share of the annual immigrant visas for employment-based petitions. Foreign nationals from India and China are facing backlogs for their green cards because they oversubscribed their annual quotas. By eliminating the per-country quota system, Indian and Chinese nationals will simply use up the annual allotment of immigrant visas currently allocated to other foreign nationals. It will unfairly penalize nationals from countries other than India and China who will no longer find an immigrant visa immediately available despite their approved petitions. The majority of immigration lawyers oppose this bill out of a sense of fairness; those with predominantly Indian and Chinese clients acknowledge the conflict. I have a mixed client base and my motto has always to provide first-rate service to each applicant regardless of which country he or she comes from (I don't deliberately cater to foreign nationals from countries with higher immigration rates to the US). The bill sponsor, Rep. Lofgren, comes from a district where her constituents include a high number of Indian and Chinese visa applicants in the high tech field.
    Like (169)
    Follow
    Share
    It s very disheartening to see the number of years of wait to finally be able to get the residency in a country where we are spending our very crucial years of life. Just because of the fact that someone is from India shouldn't deter them from getting their green cards and keep waiting until not sure when. The per country limit needs to be removed and equal chances are to be given to all skilled workers, then only the nation would become even more successful.
    Like (140)
    Follow
    Share
    This is an important step towards fairness to those foreign nationals already present in the US and working on an H1-B. The green card backlogs are a nightmare and the USCIS freezes are not helping either. My EB-1 application is in a limbo because of an apparent freeze on new I-485 applications until October2019. Dr. Deshpande
    Like (123)
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    It destroys the diversity in the tech industry.
    Like (115)
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    This bill will not solve the backlog, as it advertises. Instead, it would transfer the burden of India to every other country in the world. Right now the system works for all countries, except India. It would be unfair to punish all countries, so that India can get even more green cards and dominate the GC program, the same way it unfairly dominates the H1b program.
    Like (96)
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    Countries don't immigrate, individuals do! Many of the arguments against this bill are based on the premise that "India has been sufficiently catered to" and so that somehow makes it ok for doctors, engineers, scientists, etc. from India, who legally applied for a green card, to wait decades while anybody who just happened to be born in a less populous country walks straight in with no queue. Imagine Disney introduced a "fair" system of queuing for rides in their parks by race - to ensure all races get the same number of rides. So blacks, hispanics, and asians could just walk up to their ride and take a seat while the whites wait for say 6 hours to get into one ride. This bill ends a practice that is no less shocking than the hypothetical one at Disney and takes us to a first come first serve system that is so common and second-nature in all other walks of life, that it is almost unthinkable to have it any other way. Why should legal immigration for an individual (NOT a country) be any different?
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    This bill will give fairness to the people and their kids who are living in this country legally for decades.
    Like (44)
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    Let’s see what will happen when this bill gets approved. At first, for more than 10 years, nobody else would be able apply for green card until all the Indians who are in GC backlog queue get their GC and the backlog gets cleared. But what will happen after these 10 years? With this proposed bill, 10 years later, people from other countries would be finally able to process their GC application. However, this is the best scenario and it would definitely not happen. Why? The new people from India, despite the fact that they know that without this bill it may take them from 10 to 150 years to get GC, are already taking 75% of H1-b visa issued each year and a high percentage are using UNETHICAL methods (racism, corruption and fake documentation) but NOT illegal ways. So during the backlog decade and after that, more than 75% of GCs would still go to Indians and the rest of the world will get only 25%. Hence, more people from India will be competing with other countries for GCs even after the 10 year period has passed. So people from India will MONOPOLIZE the GCs and that is the sole reason the “per country cap” was trying to prevent. You might think that this is good and 25% is worth fighting for, but it does not end at that: The Indian people who were coming to the USA with H1-b visa and willing to wait for 10-150 years, now, with this bill, have to wait only 10 years, while the rest of the 190 countries in the world, who typically have to wait 2-3 years to get the green card, will now have to wait at least 10 years. Eventually, this bill will encourage more people from India to come and help them to abuse more H1-b. In contrast, it will discourage people from other countries to come to the USA. Now, the 25% will even go lower to maybe 10-15%. It is bad, isn't it? But still, the story doesn’t end here. This bill is only for EB categories. So, after 10 years, the cleared backlog people will want to apply for GC for their family and relatives. Then there will be a backlog in family GC application for Indians. Given that they already have the power, money, and number to take this bill to the House, don’t you think in the next 10 years the new Indian Green Card holders would not take a new bill to remove the country cap for family Green Card application? Indians at the worst case have been getting at least 18% of total green cards (the fiscal year of 2017 compared to 35% of 2014) which is totally fair considering their population (which is 17% of the world population). So the intent of this bill is not about FAIRNESS for high skilled immigrants, it is more about the Greed of only and only one nation. Also, I used racism word, because I do believe that not giving an equal chance to all the people, despite of their ethnicity, religion, etc, is a form of racism. This racism can be as simple as preferring to hire a person from your home country based solely on the fact that they are from your home country and not based on their real qualifications. This is how Indians have come to monopolize job opportunities in large companies such as Microsoft in which Indian employee comprised 15% in 2005 and by 2018 the percentage has risen to 46%. This has been happening in other major IT companies as well, like Amazon, and it is even worse in Google. By the way, aren’t these companies are the main supporter of this bill. As an immigrant, we need to respect of the values of the country that we immigrated to and not to bring the corruption and racism from our countries to our new home.
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    HR1044 supports mainly a single nationality while discriminates against all other nationalities (rest of the world). It is not merit -based since It doesn't make the condition better for people who got advanced degrees (MSc or PhD) from high quality US universities, but gives equal chance to hundreds of thousands of people with BSc or even 2 year college education from a specific country to compete with someone who has a PhD from US. Also it doesn't solve the backlog problem but it creates backlog for everybody.
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    Common sense bill. EB GCs should be merit based not country based.
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    Because of the backlog, if this law passes only Indians will take GCs for 12 years. They need to add a maximum per nation clause
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    Its unfair to wait for so long to obtain GC for someone, who is committed to law, pays taxes and contributes to The American economy in all possible ways.
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    This bill does not solve backlogs problem but puts it on the other nations, and destroys the diversity of the country. I am just surprised how come such a naive bill gets this much attention and support! This bill not only is not fair but shows how selfish the Indians are for making the people of other nations and many American workers suffer in their own favor. Do you want to be fair? just put a similar country cap on H1B visa. Abusing H1B visa by this particular group shows that "the cap" is not the problem but it is the solution.
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    Best common sense bill, which gives fair treatment in allocation of green cards. There will be no preferrential treatment of anyone with this bill. Whats wrong with " first come first serve"? Only people opposed on this are cheap staffing bodyshops and racists.
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    Why should a country of 1 million people get the same number as a country as 1 billion? Let the free market bring people to our country who want to be here - we are the "melting pot" and their new ideas, drive to strike a new path in a new country, and desire for the American Dream will make our country strong. The 7% cap is not founded in capitalism, free market, or the ideals of this country - it is founded in racism/nationalism (inherently - defining people by their country rather than their skills).
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    This will monopolize the industry and academic for specific countries!
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    The bill is about fairness which every high skill immigrant should be entitled to irrespective of his/her country of birth. If you can do the same job, do not differentiate by country of birth. This will not take away any aspects of diversity as no additional GC's are being allocated. This bill will help remove the backlog, stabilize it in few years and make it a better process for all countries. This will help achieve dreams of several entrepreneurs, doctors whose potential cannot be unleashed because of being stuck in the GC backlogs forever.
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    This is skill based immigration so there should not be country quota. This will remove the large backlog for country with high population and will make a level playing field for all countries.
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    Justice, equality, freedom, liberty... You are the right people to do the right thing at the right time which is now, vote yes and please do the right thing. You know in your heart it is the right thing to do, let justice prevail.
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