The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, H.R. 3012, was introduced by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) on September 22, 2011. The bill aims to eliminate per-country visa limits, which are currently causing severe backlogs in green card availability for highly skilled Indian and Chinese Nationals. All workers in the EB-3 category may wait up to 9 years for a green card to become available, while those Indian and Chinese workers in the EB-2 category may wait up to 6 years. These delays cause hardship to not only the workers, but their employers as well, due to the continued need for H-1B renewals, constant monitoring of immigration law developments and lost productivity of affected workers due to anxiety over the long waiting period.
As of right now, the Immigration and Nationality Act allows for only 140,000 employment-based visas to be allocated each year. At present, the percentage of visas that can be allocated to any one country is capped at 7% percent of all of the employment-based visas available. Under the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, , the per-country limit on employment-based visas would be eliminated by 2015 after a 3 year phase-in period. During the 3 year transition, the vast majority of Employment Based visas would be allocated to Indian and Chinese nationals in order to eliminate the current backlogs. In FY 2012, Indian and Chinese nationals would receive 85% of the visa allocation. In FY 2013 and FY 2014 they would receive 90% of the visa allocations.
H.R. 3012 also increases from 7% to 15% percent the total number of available visas regarding per-country restrictions for family-based immigrants. This would greatly reduce long backlogs for nationals from Mexico and the Philippines who often wait more than 10 years for a green card to become available.
The bill is supported by the US Chamber of Commerce and a broad base of US business, including Microsoft and Google. It has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. Although it’s long term prospect for passage is slight, the bill is a ray of light from the Republican House in an otherwise dark time for new immigration law, and its mere introduction shows that someone out there is listening and understands the current plight of US businesses and their highly skilled foreign workers.