U.S. Senate May Allow Vote on Bill to Remove Per-Country Limits27 Sep 2019
Since its introduction, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (H.R. 1044 / S. 386) has been the subject of great interest and excitement within immigration circles. The bill would eliminate the per-country cap on employment-based green card petitions and increase the cap on family-based petitions. Notably, this would reduce wait times for Indian nationals. While H.R. 1044 easily passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate version of the bill has faced far more opposition.
In recent weeks, some, but not all, of the senators blocking passage of S. 386 have been swayed to end their opposition to the bill. While this is still no guarantee that the Senate bill will pass, at least it does provide some reason to hope.
Possible Next Steps
S. 386 includes a number of provisions, mainly related to the H1B program, that were not in the House version of the bill. Therefore, if S. 386 passes, the bill would then have to go back to the House for consideration. If both the House and Senate ultimately pass the same version of the bill, it then would be up to President Trump to decide whether to sign the bill into law. If the President vetoes the bill, there is still the possibility of the bill becoming law if the House and the Senate override the veto.
Time for Congress to Act
If this bill were to become law, it would truly be transformative. It would provide enormous relief to certain foreign nationals, most notably Indian nationals with older priority dates in the employment-based, second preference (EB2) and employment-based, third preference (EB3) categories.
Even if the bill does become law, there is still more work to be done. Foreign nationals with more recent priority dates, including Indian nationals, still likely would face backlogs lasting a decade or more. To truly address this issue, Congress also should pass legislation to increase the total number of immigrant visas issued each year. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security also could largely address this issue by reinterpreting existing regulations so that only one immigrant visa is counted per family unit, as opposed to per individual. For the time being, however, we will continue to closely track the progress of the Fairness Act and report any crucial developments. Subscribe to the MurthyBulletin to receive future updates in your inbox.
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