Workers seeking employment green cards have two time challenges. The first challenge is that the priority date of their application must be before the cutoff date set forth in the US Visa Bulletin. The second challenge is that the eligibility of the applicant for a visa or green card depends on the country of the applicant. Some countries (China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines, and possibly others) have limits on the percentage of available visas and green cards.
The US House of Representatives previously passed legislation that would remove these “country” caps for many countries. Now, according to The Register, the US Senate has passed draft legislation that would remove the per-county cap on vias – for “skilled” workers. This would mean that large countries like India would no longer have the same number of visas as smaller countries. For some countries, the demand for green cards can mean wait times of decades.
The S.386 – Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 was passed by the Senate on Wednesday, December 2. The House of Representatives previously passed a different version. The sponsor of the bill, Republican Senator Mike Lee from Utah, “has argued that capping the number of visas that can be issued to a country is “de facto country-of-origin discrimination.”
Senator Lee’s “amendments to the bill do away with per-country caps, but also limit a single nation to 85 percent of all visas awarded in a single year.” The Trump administration sill plans for the visas to be granted only to “to very highly-paid workers first as a means to avoid imported workers undercutting the salaries expected by American residents.”
The Trump administration has not indicated whether it will sign S.386 which has to be coordinated with the House version of the bill. The Senate bill excludes Chinese nationals or aliens associated with the Chinese Communist Party or the People’s Republic of China.
The bill is supported by the tech industry which wants more talented people – but is opposed by the US Tech Workers lobby group.
According to MoneyControl.com, the S.386 would remove the seven (7) percent country cap. If signed into law, “the oldest applicants by priority date would get the green card first, as it would follow a first-come-first-served basis. For newer applicants, it would still take a proportionate amount of time before their turn comes.”
MoneyControl also states that S.386 could “impact Indians [and presumably other aliens] by allocating 70 percent of the green card to H-1B holders and their dependents for one to nine years. This would become 50 percent in consecutive years.”
On December 2, the Register also reported that “a California judge smacked down the administration’s new H-1B plan on grounds that it was implemented without sufficient notice or consultation, and in any event would not bring about the policy objective of a boost to the US economy. That ruling preceded the Senate vote by just a few hours.
To stay informed about this possible new law changing cap country limits, call Herman Legal Group at or complete our contact form to speak with us.