US Senate passes bill eliminating country cap on H-1B work visas

Photo courtesy: Pride Immigration
Photo courtesy: Pride Immigration

The US Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that eliminates the country-wise limitation on the number of employment-based immigrant visas and also raises the number of family-based visas. It was sponsored by Republican Senator Mike Lee from Utah in the Senate.

The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act was originally passed by the US House of Representatives on July 10, 2019 by a bipartisan 365 to 65 votes. 

The legislation increases the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from seven per cent of the total number of such visas available that year to 15 per cent. It also eliminates the seven per cent cap for employment-based immigrant visas. Additionally, it removes an offset that reduced the number of visas for individuals from China. 

In July, Senator Lee had told the Senate that the backlog for an Indian national to get permanent residency or Green Card is more than 195 years.

The new legislation also establishes transition rules for employment-based visas from FY2020-FY2022, by 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 number of recipients of such visas.

 Of the unreserved visas, not more than 85 per cent shall be allotted to immigrants from any single country. 

Currently, there is a backlog of almost one million foreign nationals and accompanying family members lawfully residing in the US who have been approved for, and are waiting to receive, employment-based Green Cards. The largest number of them are from India.