Current Status of Per Country Quota Legislation

With the recent news that the EB-2 category for both China and India will soon become unavailable until October 2012, many of our readers have voiced their frustration over the seemingly endless wait times for their EB-2 priority dates to become current.  As a consequence of this announcement, we have also received an influx of inquiries regarding recent legislation that proposes to eliminate the per country quota for employment based categories. In this news update we will provide the most recent legislative history for this important piece of legislation.

The legislation is formally referred to as H.R. 3012 – “The Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act.”  This legislation proposes to remove the 7% per country quota for employment based categories.  Currently no single country can use more than 7% of the total available worldwide visas in each employment category, thus, more populous countries such as China and India frequently incur significant backlogs because they consume far more than 7% of the total visas per year.  By removing the per country limitation for the employment based categories, it would effectively eliminate the enormous backlogs suffered by these two countries.  An intending EB-2 immigrant from China would no longer be restricted to the 7% limitation, and instead, would be able to use visas from the total available worldwide quota.

Last year, the bill passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming majority of 389 to 15. Such a lopsided victory for the bill’s proponents shows the overwhelming bi-partisan support that this legislation fosters. Additionally, President Obama has already indicated his support for eliminating the per country quota and it is highly likely that he would sign the bill into law if it were to ever come across his desk. Unfortunately, the bill has been held up in the United States Senate. A few senators are currently holding the legislation and are bickering over amendments to the bill. As of the most recent legislative update, the bill is still languishing in a Senate subcommittee with no indication of when it may be brought back up for consideration.

One commonly held belief is that the lethargy being displayed by the Senate right now is due to the lobbying efforts of the anti-immigration establishment.  If this is true, the recent announcement of the unavailability of the EB-2 employment category for China and India may be the catalyst the legislation needs for it to be finally considered in the Senate.  Our office will continue to monitor the legislative updates regarding this important legislation and we will update our readers as soon as there are any new developments.

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