Although first seen as an amendment to the spending package before the government shutdown, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act has been reintroduced in the 116th Congress by both members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, led by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).
The bill, introduced in 2017 with 300 co-sponsors, would eliminate the caps on lawful permanent residency (i.e. green cards) for each country and ease the green card processing backlog. In particular, this would speed up processing times for Chinese and Indian foreign nationals who face tremendously long waiting lines.
On top of expedited processing, foreign nationals covered by the bill would also gain a number of benefits with their immigration applications. For one, they and their employers would no longer need to worry about renewing their H-1B visas. Consequently, the spouses of these qualified foreign nationals would also be allowed to get employment authorization documentation based on their green cards rather than the H-4 visa. Additionally, their children would be much less likely to face “ageing-out,” which is a challenge foreign parents face as they get green cards for their children as well.
The bill is not perfect, however, and several other immigrants not covered could be at a disadvantage. As an unintended result, waiting times for all other kinds of petitioners are expected to increase. Acknowledging this, immigrants not from India and China may reserve a set number of visas for a three-year transitional period: 15% for the first year, 10% in the next, and 10% again on the last transition year.
Other concerns revolve around the possibility of foreigners no longer being able to acquire a green card without first getting an H-1B visa, and the impact this would have on recruiting foreign nationals to high-skill positions. This could strain L-1B employees and cascade to industries that do not rely on Indian or Chinese nationals.
In particular, the healthcare industry is now in distress given its dependence on foreign nurses and the fact that they generally do not come from either India or China. They are not eligible for H-1B visas and therefore have to get green cards, which now favor immigrants from those two countries.
Paired with President Trump’s travel ban, individuals from the identified countries cannot as easily apply for green cards now have to deal with the waiver system, which has been wracked with procedural blunders the administration now has to defend in court.
The average wait time for non-Indian and non-Chinese green card applicants may soar to up to seven years a result of this bill.
If you, or a loved one, need assistance with your immigration application, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today to schedule a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.