House Passes Bill to Eliminate Per-Country Cap on Employment-Based Immigrants

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the "Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019" (H.R. 1044) on July 10, 2019. The bill, introduced by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Ken Buck (R-CO), would eliminate the per-country cap (numerical limitation) on employment-based immigrants and raise family-based per-country caps from 7 to 15 percent. The per-country cap provision would be implemented over a three-year phase-in period: during year one, no more than 85 percent of employment-based visas could be allocated to India or China; in years two and three, no more than 90 percent of employment-based visas could be allocated to those countries. An additional provision protects people who have immigrant visa petitions approved before September 30, 2019. The legislation is expected to benefit primarily Indian and Chinese workers, who constitute the largest proportion of H-1B skilled workers waiting for years in the U.S. green card backlog.

The bill will be considered by the Senate next. The Senate version, S. 386, was recently blocked by Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who said he wants to amend the bill with an accommodation for EB-3 nurses. Other recent developments on the Senate side included the addition of provisions strengthening H-1B specialty occupation enforcement requested by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). Although the bill has bipartisan support, it is unclear whether it has a chance of passage.

As a result of this uncertainty, Chin & Curtis does not currently believe that the passage of H.R. 1044 constitutes a reason for our clients to depart from normal company polices concerning green card sponsorship.   Chin & Curtis is actively monitoring these bills and will provide further updates should our recommendation change.

Details: Text and history of the House version, https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/hr1044; Senate version of the bill, http://src.bna.com/JDP; news reports, https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/green-card-cap-legislation-remains-blocked-despite-h-1b-deal, https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900077471/mike-lee-kamala-harris-rand-paul-immigration-reform-bill-blocked.html, https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/us-congress-to-vote-on-bill-to-lift-country-cap-on-green-card/story/362812.html