Lawmakers Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Eliminate Arbitrary Per-Country Limits to Employment-Based Visas

February 7, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON DC – U.S. Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), and 112 bipartisan members today introduced the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (H.R. 1044) – a bill to reform the legal immigration system by eliminating per-country percentage limits that cause backlogs in the employment-based green card system.  The bill would also ease backlogs for certain family-sponsored immigrants by modifying the per-country limits in the family-sponsored green card system.  Lofgren and Buck are the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship.

The United States makes 140,000 green cards available every year to employment-based immigrants, including many who first come here on temporary H-1B or L visas.  Current law, however, provides that no more than 7% of these green cards can go to nationals of any one country—even though some countries are more populous than others.  Because of this 7% limit, for example, a Chinese or Indian post-graduate at the top of her class at MIT may have to wait half a decade or more for a green card, much longer than a student from a less-populated country. 

The bipartisan Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act alters the per-country limits for employment-based immigrants so that all are treated equally regardless of their country of birth.

“We all know that our immigration system is severely broken, and it has been broken for decades,” said Lofgren. “At the heart of this broken system are the outdated employment- and family-based immigration systems, which suffer under decades-long backlogs. In combination with the per country limits, these backlogs keep nuclear families apart for decades, while preventing U.S. employers from accessing and retaining the employees they need to stay competitive.  The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act begins to address these problems and makes the immigration system somewhat more rational.  It is a small, but good step forward.”

“Our current immigration is broken and is in dire need of reform and repair.” said Buck. “Year after year, I have met with constituents who come here legally on work visas from India or China and face decades-long wait times for obtaining permanent residence. If we want to ensure America remains globally competitive, we need to ease the backlogs and leverage the talent and expertise of our high-skilled immigrants who help strengthen the U.S. economy and fill knowledge gaps in certain fields. These are people who have helped America grow and thrive as a nation of immigrants and we need to make sure our system continues to value those who are following our laws and doing the right thing.”

“The Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act is a win-win for the American people,” said Aman Kapoor, Co-Founder and President of Immigration Voice. “It would help to grow our economy by allowing highly skilled immigrants to start their own companies and hire American workers.  And, it will finally remove the last vestiges of discrimination from our high-skilled immigration system.  We are incredibly grateful Chairwoman Lofgren and Ranking Member Buck for their leadership and are confident that this will be the year the bill will pass.”

Click here for the full text of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act.

The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants act is sponsored by 114 members, including Reps. Lofgren (D-Calif.), Buck (R-Colo.), Bacon (R-Neb.), Barr (R-Ky.), Beatty (D-Ohio), Bera (D-Calif.), Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Bonamici (D-Ore.), Brooks (R-Ind.), Brownley (D-Calif.), Calvert (R-Calif.), Cardenas (D-Calif.), Carson (D-Ind.), Cicilline (D-R.I.), Clarke (D-N.Y.), Cohen (D-Tenn.), Comer (R-Ky.), Cooper (D-Tenn.), Costa (D-Calif.), Courtney (D-Conn.), Cox (D-Calif.), Crow (D-Colo.), Curtis (R-Utah), Davids (D-Kan.), Davis (R-Ill.), DeGette (D-Colo.), Deutsch (D-Fla.), Dingell (D-Mich.), Doyle (D-Pa.), Emmer (R-Minn.), Engel (D-N.Y.), Eshoo (D-Calif.), Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Estes (R-Kan.), Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Foster (D-Ill.), Gibbs (R-Ohio), Gonzalez (D-Texas), Gonzalez-Colon (R-Puerto Rico), Guest (R-Texas), Guthrie (R-Ky.), Harder (D-Calif.), Hererra Beutler (R-Wash.), Hice (R-Ga.), Hill (R-Ark.), Hurd (R-Texas), Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Jayapal (D-Wash.), Johnson (R-Ohio), Johnson (D-Ga.), Katko (R-N.Y.), Khanna (D-Calif.), Kind (D-Wis.), King (R-N.Y.), Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Kuster (D-N.H.), Langevin (D-R.I.), Larsen (D-Wash.), Lawson (D-Fla.), Long (R-Mo.), Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Malinowski (D-N.J.), Marshall (R-Kan.), Massie (R-Ky.), Matsui (D-Calif.), McBath (D-Ga.), McCollum (D-Minn.), McEachin (D-Va.), McGovern (D-Mass.), McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Meeks (D-N.Y.), Meng (D-N.Y.), Moore (D-Wis.), Morelle (D-N.Y.), Newhouse (R-Wash.), Norman (R-S.C.), Pallone (D-N.J.), Panetta (D-Calif.), Pascrell (D-N.J.) Perry (R-Pa.), Pingree (D-Maine), Price (D-N.C.), Raskin (D-Md.), Rice (D-N.Y.), Riggleman (R-Va.), Roe (R-Texas), Rutherford (D-Fla.), Sarbanes (D-Md.), Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Shalala (D-Fla.), Sires (D-N.J.), Smith (D-Wash.), Soto (D-Fla.), Speier (D-Calif.), Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Stewart (R-Utah), Stivers (R-Ohio), Swalwell (D-Calif.), Takano (D-Calif.), Titus (D-Nev.), Tonko (D-N.Y.), Torres (D-Calif.), Upton (R-Minn.), Wagner (R-Mo.), Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Welch (D-Vt.), Westerman (R-Ark.), Wild (D-Pa.), Woodall (R-Ga.), Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Young (R-Alaska).

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