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Update: House passes bill to address green card backlog

The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 passed in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday, the latest step toward addressing the backlog of green card applications we have covered in recent weeks. The bill passed with support from both sides of the aisle, with a final vote of 365 in favor and 65 against.

Changes to family-based green card quotas

Although the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act primarily addresses employment-based immigration, the version passed yesterday does include an adjustment for family-based visas as well. If this bill becomes law, the per-country quotas for family-based visa categories will increase from 7% to 15%.

Throwing out per-country caps for employment-based immigrants

Meanwhile, the bill eliminates country-based quotas for employment visas. Instead, employment-based green cards would be granted on a “first-come, first-served” basis. Despite this sweeping change, proponents of the bill still estimate it will take around a decade to clear the backlog of applicants for employment-based green cards.

And remember: the bill isn’t a law quite yet.

What’s next?

Since legislators in the Senate introduced a similar bill in February, one of two things can happen. The Senate could pass the House’s version of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act or vote on their own version. If the Senate votes to pass the House’s version, it goes to the president for signature. If the Senate passes their own, similar version of the bill, it goes to the Conference Committee – who are tasked with finding the middle ground.

Immigration policies are constantly changing all over the world. For those who wish to immigrate to the United States, it is important to seek advice from an attorney who understands the challenges they face.



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