The House of Representatives has presented legislation to lift the per-country cap on permanent resident visas, or green cards, for the US.
Representatives Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat, and John Curtis, a Republican, introduced the Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment (EAGLE) Act of 2021 on 2nd June, claiming that it will benefit the US economy by allowing American employers to focus on hiring immigrants based on their merits rather than their birthplace.
EAGLE Act about per-country limit
The bipartisan bill aims to gradually phase out the 7% per-country limit on employment-based immigration visas while increasing the per-country cap on family-sponsored visas to 15%. It specifies a nine-year period in which the limit will be lifted.
According to a press statement from the Representatives, the 7% restriction was adopted in the mid-20th century, resulting in nations with relatively small populations being awarded the same amount of visas as nations with very large populations.
How does the Act benefit Indians?
In March 2020, the Cato Institute stated that Indians accounted for 3/4th of the backlog for employment-based visas.
According to research, backlogged Indian laborers face an unimaginable nine-decade wait if they all stayed in line. As a result of the laborers dying of old age before receiving green cards, more than 200,000 petitions submitted for Indians could expire.
The per-country cap would be lifted under the EAGLE Act, potentially speeding up petitions for those seeking employment-based green cards.
However, because India and China have the maximum applications, the EAGLE Act proposes to set aside visas for ‘Lower Admission States’ for 9 fiscal years (FY).
While nearly one-third of employment-based visas will be reserved in FY1, that number will drop to 5% in FY 7, 8, and 9.
In addition, no country can obtain more than a quarter of reserved visas or more than 85% of unreserved visas in any of the 9 fiscal years, according to the measure.
Concerns about the EAGLE Act’s forerunners
In July 2019, the House of Representatives passed the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act by a resounding 365 to 65 vote. The bill received the support of 224 Democrats and 140 Republicans.
The bill attempted to enact similar policies, such as removing the 7% restriction on per-country employee-sponsored immigrant visas.
The Senate passed a different version of the measure during the 116th Congress. Vice President Kamala Harris and Republican Mitt Romney are among the bill’s co-sponsors.
There are no such provisions in the EAGLE Act bill that has just been introduced. To become law, it would need to pass both the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as be signed by the President of the United States.