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Bills would make it easier for workers with H-1B visas to get green cards

February 08 2019

Two bills that would remove per-country caps for employment-based green cards were introduced Thursday in the US House and Senate. The bills would make it easier for highly skilled workers such as those from India and China holding H-1B visas to get employment-based permanent green cards.

Currently, federal law provides no more than 7% of green cards can go to nationals of any one country, according to the office of Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a sponsor of the House bill. But some countries are more populous than others, meaning highly skilled workers from larger countries such as China and India may have to wait a decade or more for green cards.

The bill introduced in the house by Lofgren and Ken Buck, R-Colo., is the “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act,” or HR 1044.

“We all know that our immigration system is severely broken, and it has been broken for decades,” Lofgren said in a statement. “At the heart of this broken system are the outdated employment- and family-based immigration systems, which suffer under decades-long backlogs.

Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate by Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Mike Lee, R-Utah.

“Immigrants should not be penalized due to their country of origin,” Lee said. “Treating people fairly and equally is part of our founding creed and the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act reflects that belief.”

The bills were endorsed by several in the business community.

“There is consensus that reforms to fix the nation’s immigration laws for high-skilled workers are long overdue,” said Andy Halataei, senior VP of government affairs at the Information Technology Industry Council. “The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act would allow US employers to attract and retain the world’s best and highly-educated employees, enabling highly-skilled workers who are committed to the United States to propel American innovation, grow the economy, and help create jobs in America.”

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