On November 29, 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives easily passed an immigration bill that allows more highly skilled immigrants from China and India to become green card holders (i.e. legal permanent residents.) We say “easily” passed the House because the bill had bipartisan support and was passed with a vote of 389 to 15. The bill is likely to pass the Senate as well.
American technology corporations, such as Microsoft, have long petitioned for a change in legal immigration laws because their workers, here on temporary visas, are being forced to leave because of the green card backlog. Corporations have stated that the U.S. is losing its edge in the world economy and the technology race due to a lack of highly skilled workers.
The bill does not address illegal immigration issues. Instead, the goal is to reduce employment-based green card waits for highly skilled workers such as those with science and technology skills such as those with master and doctorate degrees in engineering and science. Currently, highly skilled workers may be approved for a green card but have to wait years and years to actually receive it. The wait can be decades.
The bill eliminates caps on the number of annual employment green cards available to a specific country. The bill does not change the number of green cards available; that number remains at 140,000. It just eliminates the current 7% (i.e. 9,800 visas) limit per country. Instead, all employment-based green cards would be distributed first-come-first-served. However, it’s estimated that wait will still be approximately 12 years, according to Stuart Anderson, executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy.
In addition, the bill keeps the limit on family-based green cards at 226,000, but raises the number of green cards available to each country, by eliminating the current 7% per country cap and replacing it with a 15% cap. This changes the number of family-based green cards available for each country from 15,820 to 33,900 and will benefit Filipinos and Mexicans.
If you wish to bring or keep a highly skilled worker in the United States or you are a highly skilled worker and wish to obtain a green card, consult with a qualified immigration attorney. We focus our practice on immigration law and help people just like you every day.
Your next step is to contact our office: 513-791-1673 or Thomasjr@geygan.com. We will gently walk you through your immigration issues, guiding you; and, even aggressively represent you in court and before the Department of State, if need be.