Immigrant visa reform bill introduced in US House, Indians to benefit - Hindustan Times

Rep. Pramila Jayapal spearheads US immigrant visa reform bill to ease Green Card backlogs, Indians to benefit

Dec 04, 2023 11:26 AM IST

HR6542 Act aiming to eliminate per-country caps on employment-based green cards and increase family-based green card limits.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by US Representative Pramila Jayapal along with Rep. Rich McCormick and Rep. Raja Krishnamo, have introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would eliminate the per-country caps on employment-based green cards and increase the family-based green card limit. The bill, called the HR6542 Act, aims to address the long-standing backlog of green card applicants, especially from countries like India and China, who face decades of waiting to obtain permanent residency in the United States.

Bipartisan bill introduced in US House of Representatives aims to eliminate per-country caps on employment-based green cards. Left Pramila Jayapal(AP/X-Immigration Voice)
Bipartisan bill introduced in US House of Representatives aims to eliminate per-country caps on employment-based green cards. Left Pramila Jayapal(AP/X-Immigration Voice)

On Saturday, Jayapal posted, “Proud to help lead this important bipartisan bill with @RepMcCormick & @CongressmanRaja to improve our immigrant visa system and ease the harsh effects of the immigrant visa backlog,” with a tagged post from Immigration Voice saying, “introducing H.R.6542 – the Immigration Visa Efficiency and Security Act. We look forward to visiting the Hill next week to create awareness on why this critical bipartisan bill is necessary to pass this Congress.”

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What is HR6542 Bill

According to a tweet Jayapal, the bill would “end the discriminatory per-country caps that have kept hundreds of thousands of Indian and Chinese immigrants in limbo for years, unable to reunite with their families or plan their futures.” She added that the bill would also “help American businesses retain the talent they need to compete and innovate in the global economy.”

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The bill has received support from various immigration advocacy groups, such as Immigration Voice, which tweeted that the bill would “provide relief to over 1.2 million high-skilled immigrants stuck in the green card backlog, some of whom will otherwise have to wait 134 years to receive their green cards.”

The green card backlog is a result of the low annual limits on the number of green cards issued for each category and country. As per recent US GDP 1% of Indian immigrants that contribute to 6% of the US economy.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the employment-based green card backlog reached a new record of 1.8 million cases this year. The backlog consists of immigrants who are waiting to receive green cards, primarily due to the low green card caps for employer-sponsored immigrants and investors.

Whats is EAGLE act?

The EAGLE (Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment) Act would phase out the 7% per-country cap on employment-based green cards over a period of nine years and increase the 7% per-country limit on family-sponsored green cards to 15%.

The EAGLE Act, however, has a better chance of passing in the current Congress, as it has bipartisan co-sponsors and the support of the Biden administration.

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The bill would also protect the diversity visa program, which allocates 50,000 green cards annually to applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

The HR6542 bill seems similar to the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, which passed the House in 2019 but stalled in the Senate due to opposition from some senators who wanted to include provisions to protect American workers and reduce overall immigration levels.

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