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The immigration bill introduced in the Congress on February 18 by the Joe Biden administration brings good news for Indians techies working in the US. The immigration reform bill aims to allow more permanent immigrant status or green cards for professional Indians, who have the longest wait for immigration, and cut their wait times.’
The bill will eliminate green card backlogs, and increase per country green card quota, all of which could benefit the Indian diaspora in the US.
The bill titled as the US Citizenship Act 2021, was introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives by Senator Bob Menendez and Representative Linda Sanchez respectively.
What does it bring for Indians?
For the past few years, it has been difficult and uncertain for Indians to live in the US but the bill addresses the issues as Indians have been one of the employment-based visa categories like H-1B and L-1.
Many Indians have been waiting for the US under employment-based green card for a decade.
As quoted by IANS, A report by the immigration think tank Cato Institute points out that it would take 84 years to process this backlog. In the process, 2 lakh could die of old age while waiting for green cards, the study reported.
Sanchez said in a statement that the immigration bill intends to address the issue by eliminating family members and spouses, PhDs in STEM field, and those in the green card queue for more than 10 years. This means that those in the queue for more than a decade would be able to get green cards when this bill is implemented.
Doug Rand, co-founder, Boundless Immigration, pointed out that this move provides relief for people. “And the waiting itself wouldn’t be nearly so bad,” he pointed.
Enabling work permit for spouses and children of H1-B visa holders
The immigration reforms bill also tries to help children of those on H1-B professional employment visas who would have become ineligible for green cards if they reach 21 years before their parents qualify for immigration. They would be allowed to continue with H1-B visas.
Under current regulations, the children lose their right to remain in the US when they turn 21 years if their parents are still waiting for green cards.
One of the biggest relief introduced is that now spouses of H1-B workers would also be allowed to work, a provision that former President Donald Trump tried to revoke.
The bill would allow automatic renewal of work authorisation permits in case of processing delays of more than a year.
Increasing per country green card limit
The US allocates 140,000 green cards per year for the employment-based category. Each country has a 7 percent limit. The immigration reforms bill proposes to increase the per-country cap to 20 percent which will benefit a large number of Indians on H-1B visas who apply for green cards.
Every year the US issues 85,000 visas to highly skilled immigrants. Indians account for a significant share of the visas issued. In addition, in FY19, of the 1.8 lakh H-1B visas issued, close to 1.3 lakh were issued to Indians.
Increasing the green card cap will also cut down the wait time for Indians and will allow retaining talent in the United States.
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