It comes as no surprise to employers and foreign nationals that it can take years and years for an employee to receive their green card depending on their country of origin. While foreign nationals from certain countries are lucky enough to quickly be at the front of the line, others, like nationals of India and China, are waiting years and potentially decades to receive permanent residence status.
In February 2019, Congress introduced HR 1044 – a bill that, if passed, would focus more on category and date of filing, rather than country of origin. As it stands, the United States has reserved, 140,000 employment-based green cards with a cap of no more than seven percent to any one country. That has left a significant backlog for nationals of China and India, with most other countries having much less of a backlog. Under HR 1044, green cards would be approved on a first come first serve basis for those already in that backlog – meaning Chinese and Indian nationals would receive the vast majority. The proposed bill would essentially remove the per-country numerical limitation for issuance of green cards for employment based (EB) cases, and it would also increase limits for family-based immigrant visas.
Fair or not fair? It’s a tough debate and something Congress has grappled with for several years – what is the best way forward to reduce the backlog in an equitable manner. As of mid-last year, there were almost 400,000 workers waiting for EB green cards – 300,000 of them were Indian. On the one hand, maybe it is fair to allot more green cards sooner to those who are applying from a specific country to meet the need, but on the other, does redistributing the numbers unfairly impact all other countries? Is a better way forward a bill that increases the overall numbers by raising the per-country limits (see former Immigration Innovation Act Bill that didn’t pass) rather than just reallocating them on a different basis? Maybe so, but this is the everlasting debate and much of the reason why something certainly needs to be done.
Employer and foreign nationals alike should always remain apprised of the latest bills being proposed, educate themselves on the details, and work to become involved with immigration reform – it is an issue highly consequential to America’s economy and future on a global front.
Feel free to call me at 404.949.8151, or reach out by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ms. Claffey is a partner at Kuck Baxter Immigration LLC, a 2019 ATDC program sponsor. The views expressed are not necessarily those of ATDC or Georgia Tech.