A group of influential US lawmakers has presented a bill in Congress to recapture almost 380,000 unused family and employment-based visas to reduce a huge Green Card backlog, a move that could benefit thousands of highly-skilled IT professionals from India.
A Green Card, known officially as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document given to immigrants to the US. As proof that the bearer has been granted the privilege of residing permanently.
According to a 2020 report, the backlog for an Indian national to get permanent residency or Green Card is more than 195 years.
The Jumpstart Our Legal Immigration System Act, presented by House Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee Chair Zoe Lofgren, proposes recapturing around 222,000 unused family-sponsored visas and around 157,000 employment-based visas.
Among other things, it would allow immigrant US residents eligible for adjustment to Legal Permanent Residence (LPR) status. To apply for adjustment after paying a fee. However, can’t do so as of now due to the lack of an available visa number.
A major boost to a large number of Indians will allow them to get work authorization while they wait for a visa number. To become available and will prevent dependent children from “aging out” of eligibility for the LPR status.
US Congress to recapture 380K unused family & employment-based visas
Indian IT professionals, a large portion of whom are highly skilled and come to the US mainly on the H-1B work visas. Are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system. Which imposes a seven percent per country quota on allotment of the coveted Green Card or permanent legal residency.
The H-1B visa, the most sought-after among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa. That allows US organizations to use foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Moreover, technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India & China.
The legislation also seeks to allow immigrants into the US. To receive an exemption from the immigrant visa numerical limits and adjust their status to a green card. If their immigrant visa petition has been approved for two years and they pay a supplemental fee.
Its co-sponsors are House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler and Congresswoman Judy Chu and Congressman Ritchie Torres.
“We all know that our immigration system is dysfunctional. Also, it has been in dire need of reform for decades,” said Lofgren.
“The basic system for allocating immigrant visas dates back to the middle of the 20th century and was updated last seriously in 1990. When Congress established the worldwide numerical limits on visas and the 7 percent per-country cap that still exists today. Over time, these limitations have led to backlogs that were unimaginable in 1990,” she said.
“The Act will help reduce the backlogs, thereby enabling immigrants to fully contribute to their communities and our national economy, while also allowing the US companies to attract and retain high-skilled workers. That will enhance our country’s competitive advantage and our position as a global leader in innovation,” she said.
“Our immigration system is in urgent need of reform and this legislation is a vital step in the right direction… the Act will recapture some 400,000 family- and employment-based visas. Also, create an accelerated path to adjustment of status for those already here and give much-needed funds to US Citizenship and Immigration Services to improve visa processing“.
Congressman Torres said the legislation will start to address the visa backlog. That has prevented many thousands of family-and employment-based visas from entering the US. While also giving relief to diversity visa winners impacted by the Trump travel ban.