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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

H.R. 3012: "Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act": Bill passes House by a 20 to 1 margin; moves on to Senate

Update: There is no news on H.R. 3012, the High Skilled Immigrants Act, which was put on hold by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA).  But even without H.R. 3012, the January 2012 Visa Bulletin showed the China and India EB-2 category (for aliens with advanced degrees or equivalent, or in the national interest (NIW) advancing more than 9 months from 3/15/08 to 1/1/2009.  This rapid advancement demonstrates that demand for green cards amongst advanced degree professionals from countries other than India and China is decreasing, so unused green cards are being granted to those seeking immigration from China/India.  

More on H.R. 3012.  On 12/15/11, in order to release his hold, Senator Grassley offered an amendment that would make dramatic changes to the bill including elimination of family per country limit increase and reducing the employment based per country limit to 15%.  The amendment would also eliminate the diversity visa program and add provisions that would increase enforcement and U.S. worker protections to the H-1B and L-1 visa programs. 

Senator Grassley's amendment was objected to, therefore THE HOLD ON THE BILL REMAINS. 

As reported in the New York Times yesterday the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 3012, which stands to reallocate available visas, and speed up the green card process for professional Indian and Chinese foreign nationals. 

THIS BILL IS NOT YET A LAW.  See an old School House Rock video to learn more about how a Bill Becomes a Law.  Further, some colleagues I have spoken with feel the chances of a law which gives more green cards to Indian and Chinese nationals, while at the same time, decreasing the amount given to foreign nationals from, ahem, some of the “whiter” countries, and especially in light continued unemployment issues here in America - are slim.
It is worth noting that H.R. 3012 would not increase the number of available employment based green cards. It would eliminate the per country limit, which should provide historically backlogged countries, such as India and China, with a window of opportunity to apply for or secure their green cards, while  creating backlogs for foreign nationals from other countries, where historically, no backlogs existed.  
From AILA:
H.R. 3012, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act was introduced on September 22, 2011 by Rep. Chaffetz (R-UT). The proposed legislation eliminates the employment-based per-country cap entirely by fiscal year 2015 and raises the family-sponsored per-country cap from 7% to 15%.

On October 27, 2011, the House Judiciary Committee held a markup and H.R. 3012 was reported favorably out of committee by a voice vote. An amendment from Rep. Lofgren (D-CA) that would make adjustments to the three year phase-in period was accepted. H.R. 3012 must next be scheduled for House floor debate which may occur in the next few weeks.

On November 29, 2011, the House passed H.R. 3012, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act by a vote of 389-15 with no additional amendments. The measure now moves on to the Senate for consideration.

How This Affects You
It is important to plan I-140 and I-485 Adjustment of Status timing and processing for those who may suddenly be impacted by a backlog, or finally allowed to file a green card applications, after years of waiting.  If you have questions about your specific case, you should contact your company’s immigration counsel, or the attorneys at Lang Wallace LLC.

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