Proposed Changes to Family and Employment Based Visas

 

On January, 2017, Representative Jason Chaffetz from Utah introduced a bill regarding per country numerical limitations (H.R. 392, also known as Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrant Act of 2017). No further action was taken on that bill.

However, the proposed amendment under H.R 392, was merged into another bill, titled the 2019 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act (H.R. 6776). This Bill was introduced on September 12, 2018 by Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas.

The Proposed Amendment

The Bill “amends the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to: (1) eliminate the per-country numerical limitation for employment-based immigrants, and (2) increase the per-country numerical limitation for family-based immigrants from 7% to 15% of the total number of family-sponsored visas”.

Currently, there is an existing  per-country numerical limitation for immigrants who are able to become lawful permanent residents (“LPR” also known as a “green card” holder) through a family or employer sponsorship. That limit is set at 7% for any one country within a fiscal year.

Family Sponsored LPR’s

Generally, only 226,000 visas are available to those seeking LPR status through their U.S citizen or LPR family member worldwide.(See this link).

You qualify for a family sponsored green card if you are (i) an unmarried son or daughter of a U.S citizen, (ii) a spouse or unmarried son or daughter of a LPR (a green card holder), (iii) a married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen, and (iv) a brother or sister of a U.S citizen. These are listed in order of priority. That means that an unmarried son or daughter of a U.S citizen will have preference over a spouse of unmarried child or an LPR and so on.

Only 7% of all applicants from one country may be approved for a family sponsored green card during a fiscal year. This means that no more than 15,820 of all applicants from any one country may be approved for this visa category (See this link).

The proposed amendment intends to increase that number to 15%. This means that more people from any one country may receive a family based green card. 

This amendment will be beneficial to those applicants from countries that are currently backlogged, including India, China, Mexico by allowing more applicants from those countries to be approved. (See the Visa Bulletin for backlogged dates).

 Employer Sponsored LPR’s

Generally, only 140,000 visas are available each fiscal year for applicants seeking LPR status for their job skill through their employer. (See this link, and this link).

You qualify for an employer sponsored green card if you are (i) an outstanding professor or researcher, someone with extraordinary ability, etc; (ii) a professional holding an advanced degree, etc; (iii) a professional with a baccalaureate degree, etc; (iv) a minister, former officers or employees of an international organization, etc, or (v) an investor. (See link for specific eligibility criteria).

Only 7% of all applicants from any one country may be approved for an employer sponsored green card during a fiscal year. This means that no more than 9,800 of the total number of applicants from any country may be approved. (See this link).

The proposed amendment intends to completely remove any per-country numerical limitation and approve employer sponsored green card applications on a first come first serve basis.

Again, this amendment will be beneficial to those countries that are currently backlogged by allowing an unlimited number of applicants from those countries to be approved. (See this link for backlogged dates).

This bill is currently still in the introduction phase and may or may not become law.  

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