Report: Eliminate Per-Country Green Card Caps

Eliminating per-country caps for green cards is essential if the United States wants to retain highly skilled foreign-born workers and remain a globally competitive economy, according to a recent study by the National Foundation for American Policy.

Under current U.S. law, a single country can only be awarded 7 percent of green cards available in any category; according to the NFAP report, this means only 3,000 Indians can be given employment-based EB-3 green cards annually. Given that there is a backlog of about 210,000 Indian professionals in line for this green card, a 2011 applicant stands to wait as long as 70 years, the report stated.

The situation is almost as bad for Chinese professionals, with waiting times for EB-3 green cards running to about 20 years, and the report showed prospective immigrants from other countries face waiting times of five years or longer.

In a release that accompanied the report, NFAP Executive Director Stuart Anderson pointed out that one-half to two-thirds of science, math and engineering U.S. college graduates are foreign nationals. Failure to grant work permits to these graduates means they will likely be employed by international competitors of U.S. companies, Anderson stated.

The report echoed the concerns and recommendations recently discussed at a Bloomberg-hosted roundtable of business and academic leaders in Washington, D.C., and at a Partnership for a New American Economy panel in El Paso, Texas.