Bill: New immigration Bill introduced by Raja Krishnamoorthi seeks to remove green card backlogs

A recent bill that was introduced in the US House of Representatives by Raja Krishnamoorthi (Democrat-Illinois) and Larry Bucshon (Republican-Indiana), to ensure that the United States is properly utilising the employment-based visas currently allocated each year under existing federal immigration law, is being welcomed by thousands of Indians working in America.
The Eliminating Backlogs Act of 2023 legislation would give greater flexibility to use existing allotted work visas that employers desperately need, according to a press release from the office of Congressman Krishnamoorthi last week.
Indians, as is well known, employed in the US on temporary work permits such as H-1Bs face the longest delays in getting employment-based permanent residence visas or green cards because of the per country cap. If passed, the Eliminating Backlogs Act will benefit Indians employed in the US greatly.
“Even as our country’s high-skilled immigration system helps us draw top talent from around the world, current law caps the number of employment-based visas available based on workers’ country of origin, leaving thousands of visas that would otherwise help our economy unused. I’m proud to partner with Congressman Bucshon on this legislation to end country-based discrimination in high-skilled immigration to ensure we use every allotted visa to draw skilled workers from across the globe to help strengthen our economy and create jobs while we also continue to invest in our domestic workforce,” said Congressman Krishnamoorthi.
“Under current federal immigration law, there are a certain number of visas allocated annually for skilled workers, such as doctors and engineers, to ensure our workforce can meet the demands of our economy in Indiana and across the country. Unfortunately, bureaucratic policies and delays have prevented hundreds of thousands of these visas from being used, despite a serious need for more skilled workers across our nation. I am proud to work with my colleague, Rep. Krishnamoorthi, to put forward a bill to help eliminate this backlog and ensure that visas allocated under existing federal immigration law can be properly used. This will help support an immigration system that incentivizes and rewards legal applicants and boosts our economy,” Bucshon said.
Even though this new Bill would benefit Indians in a big way; it is likely that there will be several roadblocks in its path to being passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate.
In fact, another recent Bill, Equal Access to Green cards for Legal Employment Act of 2022 or the EAGLE Act of 2022, faced a big setback after proceedings on it were postponed in the US House in December 2022.
The Eagle Act, introduced in the House by Representative Zoe Lofgren (Democrat, Canada) in 2021; also addressed requirements related to employment-based visas and related issues.
Provisions of the Bill increase the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from 7% of the total number of such visas available that year to 15% and eliminates the per-country cap for employment-based immigrant visas.
The Eagle Act also establishes transition rules for employment-based visas or green cards such as reserving a percentage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability) and EB-3 (skilled and other workers) visas for individuals not from the two countries with the largest number of recipients of such visas, and allotting a number of visas for professional nurses and physical therapists.
The Bill also allows certain aliens to obtain lawful permanent resident status if the alien is in the United States as a non-immigrant; has an approved immigrant visa petition, and has waited at least two years for a visa. All these provisions, if passed, would be a big relief for Indians waiting on green card queues.
“Every year Congress allows for a set number of foreign nationals with specific skills and training to come to the US for work. This helps ensure that American businesses have access to the skilled labour force they need to succeed. Each nation is capped at receiving only seven per cent of the allotted employment-based slots in any year. Due to this per-country limitation and bureaucratic delays, US immigration officials failed to utilise approximately 9,100 employment-based visas in FY2020 and over 66,000 in FY2021,” Congressman Krishnamoorthi, who has long been a champion of reforming the immigration system for high-skilled immigrants, pointed out in the press release last week as background to the new Eliminating Backlogs Act.
In October 2021, he had supported the Build Back Better Act (HR 5376), that addressed the issue of green card backlogs. The draft of the Bill included comprehensive high-skilled immigrations reforms. He was also the original cosponsor of the EAGLE Act and, along with Representatives Kathy Manning and Deborah Ross, had led 40 members of Congress in sending a letter to then Speaker Nancy Pelosi and majority leader Chuck Schumer on the importance of addressing the employment-based green card backlog in the Build Back Better Act.
“I am pleased that the Build Back Better Act legislation released last night in the U.S. House of Representatives will finally provide relief for the over 1.2 million high-skilled workers stuck in the employment-based green card backlog,” Congressman Krishnamoorthi had then said. “Democrats have heard these workers’ heart-breaking stories of decades-long green card queues and children being forced to self-deport, and are now taking action.”
The draft Build Back Better Act had provisions to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act registry cut-off date to allow individuals who entered the US prior to January 1, 2010 to apply for green cards; recapture family-sponsored and employment-based green cards unused since 1992; allow individuals with approved immigrant petitions to file for adjustment of status early upon payment of a fee; and exempt family-sponsored and employment-based applicants from numerical limits on visas for an additional fee.
Some portions of the Build Back Better Act legislation were later passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate but the provisions on immigration reforms were not included.

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