Immigration Bills Introduced: Long Road Ahead23 Jan 2015
The Murthy Law Firm has received many inquiries regarding the impact of recently proposed immigration bills that would eliminate the per-country limit for employment-based immigrant visa categories. This per-country limit is one of the primary reasons most beneficiaries born in China and India must endure long wait times when applying to become lawful permanent residents (“green card” holders) through an employer. While these bills are exciting, it is important to understand that nearly identical bills were proposed in recent years, yet failed to pass. These current proposals will need to overcome significant political hurdles if they are to have any chance of being signed into law.
House Bill: H.R. 213 – Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2015
H.R. 213 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 8, 2015, and is titled the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2015. The official summary of the bill notes that it would “(1) eliminate the per country numerical limitation for employment-based immigrants, and (2) increase the per country numerical limitation for family based immigrants from seven percent to fifteen percent of the total number of family-sponsored visas.”
H.R. 213 is essentially the same bill as H.R. 3012, which was proposed and passed by the House in 2011, but failed to pass in the U.S. Senate. A more thorough summary of the 2011 bill, and thus this reintroduced bill, is available in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Immigration Bill Would Eliminate Per-Country Quota in EB & Increase FB Quotas (21.Oct.2011).
Senate Bill: S. 153 – Immigration Innovation (“I-Squared”) Act of 2015
The Senate bill, S. 153, was introduced on January 13, 2015, and is titled the Immigration Innovation Act of 2015 or I-Squared. A very similar version of the bill, S. 169, was previously proposed in 2013, but never made it out of committee for a vote.
The bill contains provisions that closely mirror the major issues addressed by H.R. 213. It also seeks to reduce demand for visa numbers, in part, by exempting foreign nationals with advanced STEM degrees from U.S. universities from the numerical limits on employment-based green cards. The bill further includes various major improvements within the nonimmigrant categories. The bill proposes to increase the H1B cap and create a blanket cap exemption for all individuals who qualify for the current H1B advanced degree cap. It would create additional grace periods for various nonimmigrant categories, thus making it easier to maintain status. It would also allow F-1 students to enjoy dual intent, which would eliminate the primary reason for denials of F-1 visas at consulates abroad.
The Murthy Law Firm strongly supports the passage of these bills, and fully recognizes the need to fix many components of the current U.S. immigration system. However, as has been seen time and time again, getting the politicians in Washington D.C. to pass any type of major immigration bill is extremely difficult. Thus, foreign nationals should avoid making immigration plans based on these bills.
Stakeholders are encouraged to contact their respective congressional representatives and voice their support for these bills. If H.R. 213 and/or S. 153 gain any traction, or if any other immigration bill appears to have a reasonable chance of being passed into law, MurthyDotCom will immediately post the information. Subscribe to the free MurthyBulletin to remain up to date on such developments.
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