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Understanding the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019

7/16/2019
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You may have recently learned about the new piece of immigration legislation before Congress called the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, H.R. 1044. The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act is intended to clear the backlogs facing skilled workers, primarily from India and China, seeking permanent residency in the U.S. for themselves as well as their spouses and children. With bipartisan support from Congress, and a similar bill with bipartisan support in the Senate, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 attempts to surgically correct an obvious flaw in the U.S. immigration system. At its simplest, this bill doesn’t add any new visas, it merely eliminates roadblocks for workers who have lived in, worked in, and contributed to the U.S. for years and who want to become citizens. 
 
Under the Current Immigration System 
 
Today’s immigration system imposes quotas on the number of visas given to citizens of a particular country—currently no more than 7% of the total number of visas allocated can be allocated to any single country. Because this system fails to account for the different population sizes of other countries, it negatively affects immigrants originating in larger countries. For example, India has a population of 2.5 times larger than the European Union (EU); this means India, with a population of over a billion people, is apportioned the same number of visas as a country such as Iceland, which has a population of approximately 340,000 people.  
 
The disparity in the number of available visas and the size of the originating country has resulted in decades-long wait times for immigrants from India and China. The Cato Institute has an interesting article, 150-Year Wait for Indian Immigrants With Advanced Degrees, that describes the situation facing highly skilled Indian immigrants trying to obtain permanent residency in the U.S. 
 
The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act 
 
The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act will remove the per-country caps pertaining to employment-based visas, and shift to a first-come, first-serve basis. The bill will also increase the per-country allocation of visas from 7% to 15%. It’s predicted that passing the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act will lead to a significant reduction in visa backlogs for Indian and Chinese foreign nationals, and speed up the process of gaining permanent residency for the spouses and children of H-1B visa holders—the latter of which risk aging out of their visas and being sent back to their home countries. 
 
Seeing that the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act will not add any additional visas, immigrants from smaller countries with lower demand for visas will face longer wait times. 
 
Conclusions
 
Although the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act doesn’t correct all of the issues with our current immigration system, it does address an obvious flaw and offers a sensible solution for the multitude of foreign professionals living and working in the U.S. today. Receiving overwhelming support in Congress, the bill passed by 365 to 65 votes. However, companion legislation in the Senate is facing a less certain future despite support across the aisle, meaning it could get caught up in committees before being put to a vote on the Senate floor. After that, the bill’s future is even more uncertain, as it gets passed along to an executive branch with a history of being unfriendly to immigration. 
 
GoffWilson Immigration 
 
While the U.S. government attempts to correct imperfections in its immigration system, GoffWilson is here to help you. Soley practicing immigration, GoffWilson can assist you in navigating the complexities of the green card process. Practicing both employment and family immigration, we help individuals and families come to the U.S. to live their American dreams. Immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion. Contact us today!

Filed under:H-1B Visa, Immigration Law