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House Votes to Eliminate Per-Country Cap for Employment Based Immigrant Visas

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House Votes to Eliminate Per-Country Cap for Employment Based Immigrant Visas

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In a small but symbolic victory, on November 29, 2011, the House of Representatives voted 389-15 to eliminate the 7{b6b8f04f7bd4b863c4cfed8339fd19419bda3e071c79bc5ac8c810cb9c52e30f} per-country cap on employment based immigrant visas (“green cards”). If passed, the bill, sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), would slightly decrease the visa wait-time for foreign nationals from countries such as India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines. However, the “Chaffetz Bill” affects neither the existing employment based categories nor the available number of employment based visas. The Chaffetz bill also increases the per-country cap for family based visas from 7{b6b8f04f7bd4b863c4cfed8339fd19419bda3e071c79bc5ac8c810cb9c52e30f} to 15{b6b8f04f7bd4b863c4cfed8339fd19419bda3e071c79bc5ac8c810cb9c52e30f}.

Although, some pro-immigrant groups and high-tech industry companies “applauded congress for showing it can act,” some similar groups have raised objections. Adjudicating applications on a first-come-first-serve basis “makes the system a tiny bit fairer,” but at a price to foreign nationals from countries that have not experienced oversubscription in the past. A foreign national from England may currently wait 2-3 years for his permanent residence status based on employment, while an Indian national in a similar position could wait decades. If Congress passes the Chaffetz Bill, the English employee may wait an additional 2-3 years for adjudication while the government processes applications from Indian foreign nationals filed earlier in time.

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