Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act Too Small to Make a Big Splash

While HR 3012, known as The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, eliminates the caps placed on countries for business visas, many critics find the bill does not do quite enough.

The bill, recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, comes as a welcome first step to facilitating more business-related immigration from countries with large pools of applicants, like China and India. The Economic Times recently highlighted the story of Ashish Kumar, an India-born IT worker in New Jersey. Having a green card would help Kumar, who has worked under a non-immigrant H-1B visa and its extensions since 2003, and has to apply for advance parole every time he leaves the United States.

While the removal of per-country caps gives qualified foreigners a better chance at securing an employment-based green card, the act does not eliminate what some of its detractors say is the real problem: too few green cards. Each year, a maximum of 140,000 green cards are given to advanced degree holders and skilled workers, which still severely undercuts the talented, willing workforce at America’s disposal, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The new act, which would establish a first-come, first-served policy for available work visas, will give Kumar and others like him a better chance at securing a green card, but they will likely still have to wait several years. According to a recent report by the National Foundation for American Policy, “Keeping Talent in America,” the current backlog of Indians alone waiting for a green card is at 210,000.

The new act would also change some aspects of the visa process for effecting family reunifications, but many foreign-born residents who have relatives overseas would still face a number of years of wait time. The NAFP paper also found that Filipino-Americans wanting to bring over a sibling from the Philippines often wait more than 20 years. While the act increases the per-country cap from 7 percent to 15 percent for family-sponsored applicants from Mexico and the Philippines, wait times will still be decades-long.