The fate of a new bipartisan legislation tabled in the US House of Representatives will be eagerly followed by thousands of US-based Indians uncertain of their long-term prospects in the Western nation.
The legislation, introduced by Democrat Zoe Lofgren and Republican John Curtis, seeks to eliminate per-country caps on employment-based Green Cards issued. Specifically, it will be the huge Indian IT professional cohort, many of whom have had to wait years and even decades in limbo to learn the fate of their residency applications, who will be keeping a close eye on the legislation.
The Equal Access to Green cards for Legal Employment (EAGLE) Act, 2021 will now need to be passed by the US Senate before being sent to the White House for the president to officially sign it into law.
The act looks to gradually phase out the current seven per cent per-country cap on Green cards or employment-based immigrant visas while raising the per-country limit on family-sponsored visas from seven per cent to 15 per cent. The phasing out process, as stipulated in the act, is set at nine years.khai-lagai-meaning-in-hindi
Instituted in the mid-20th century, the seven per cent limit has been under criticism for several years now. What it essentially means is that applicants from countries with larger populations are allocated the same number of visas as those from countries with smaller populations.
The press release issued by the House of Representatives reads, “ A person from a large-population country with extraordinary qualifications who could contribute greatly to our economy and create jobs waits behind a person with lesser qualifications from a smaller country.”
Indian IT professionals who arrive on US soil primarily on H-1B visas are, largely, the biggest victims of the current US immigration policy which, in recent years, has led to huge backlogs and protracted wait times.
According to a March 2020 report from the Cato Institute, Indians account for roughly 75 per cent of those backlogs. It states that “more than 200,000 petitions filed for Indians could expire as a result of the workers dying of old age before they receive green cards.”The EAGLE Act, if enshrined into law, could speed up the processing of these applications, bringing peace of mind to many Indians who have carved out livings in the US.
However, in consideration of the fact that the large majority of Green card applicants are either from India or China, the act will look to reserve visas for 'Lower Admission States' for a nine-year period. 30 per cent of such visas will be reserved in the first year for these states but this quota will be reduced in a staggered manner to five per cent by years, seven, eight and nine.
The act also stipulates that no more than 25 per cent of reserved visas could be granted to applicants from any single country, and no country “may receive more than 85 per cent of unreserved visas” over the course of the nine years.
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