The US Citizenship Act 2021, proposed by newly-elected President Joe Biden, will be introduced in Congress, the nation’s lawmaking body, on Thursday. Among other things, the act intends to eliminate the per-country cap for employment-based green cards, a move that would benefit hundreds and thousands of Indian IT professionals in America.
The bill and the benefits it offers
- Those waiting for a Green Card for more than 10 years, would get the legal permanent residency immediately as they would be exempted from the visa cap. The decade-long wait for Indian IT professionals, who are going to be the biggest beneficiary of this provision of the bill, will soon end. Though, there are riders, of course.
- The bill will be introduced by Senator Bob Menendez in the Senate and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez in the House of Representatives. The bill will go to Biden to sign into law only after being passed by Congress.
- The bill creates an eight-year path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants.
- It clears employment-based visa backlogs, recapture unused visas, reduces lengthy wait times, and eliminates per-country visa caps.
- The bill makes it easier for graduates of US universities with advanced STEM degrees to stay in the United States; improves access to green cards for workers in lower-wage sectors; and eliminates other unnecessary hurdles for employment-based green cards.
- It provides dependents of H-1B visa holders work authorisation, and children are prevented from “aging out” of the system.
- “Spouses and permanent partners and children under the age of 21 of lawful permanent residents are now exempt from the caps.
- This is a change in law. It’s what is in place right now for US citizens.
- There’s an admission rate I think probably people know seven per cent per-country cap and we raise that to 20 percent,” a senior administration official said.
- The bill also repeals the three in the 10-year unlawful presence bar. It also increases diversity visas from the current 55,000 to 80,000.
- The bill, the official said, aims at reducing the backlog for employment-based Green Card, a move which would benefit hundreds and thousands of Indian IT professionals.
- In addition to eliminating per-country cap in this category, the bill exempts spouses and children the principal applicants from the numbers for family in employment.
- “We also exempt from the numbers anyone who has been waiting for a visa to become available for more than 10 years,” said the senior administration official, on condition of anonymity.
- “In addition to that we exempt those who have advanced stem degrees, so they can stay in the country and contribute to the economy and innovation,” the official said.
- Notably, the largest number of foreign students on STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees are from India.
- “We create a pilot programme to stimulate regional economic development. And so it gives the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the authority to establish a five-year pilot programme to allow any county or municipal executive to petition for additional immigrant visas to support the region’s economic development strategy,” the official said.
- The bill also creates a pilot programme to stimulate regional economic development, gives the DHS the authority to adjust green cards based on macroeconomic conditions, and incentivises higher wages for non-immigrant, high-skilled visas to prevent unfair competition with American workers. (With PTI inputs)
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