Bipartisan bill aims to remove per-country limits on EB-5 visas
By Anayat Durrani
A new “Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment” bill has been introduced by Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), John Curtis (R-UT), and 18 bipartisan members. The EAGLE Act, H.R. 3648, introduced June 2, would phase out the 7% per-country limit on employment-based immigrant visas and raises the 7% per-country limit on family-sponsored visas to 15%.
“The bipartisan EAGLE Act will create a more fair employment-based visa system by eliminating per-country limitations and creating a first-come, first-served system focused on merit instead of country of origin,” Rep. Curtis said in a press release statement.
Rep. Lofgren, Chair of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship called the immigration system severely broken for decades. Rep. Lofgren said the worldwide numerical limits on visas and the 7% per-country cap has resulted in countries with smaller populations being given the same number of visas as larger population countries. He says this has resulted in highly qualified people from larger population countries that could contribute to the U.S. economy and create jobs having to wait behind a person with less qualification from a smaller country.
“The bipartisan EAGLE Act moves our country toward a system that de-emphasizes birthplace and better serves America. Simply put, it will allow U.S. companies to focus on what they do best – hiring smart people to create products and services, which creates jobs in our districts,” he said.
The Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, in 2019, passed the House in 116th Congress with a bipartisan vote of 365 to 65.
Some 95% of employment-based immigrants now live and work in the U.S. on temporary visas awaiting their visa, with some in temporary status for several years due to country caps based on nationality, according to the press release. Supporters of the bill say the new phased-in system would help ease the heavy backlog.
The bill includes a longer nine-year transition period so that no countries are excluded from receiving visas while the per-country caps are phased out and seeks to strengthen the H-1B temporary visa program. It will also give individuals waiting in the immigrant visa backlog for two years an option to file a green card application, once a visa becomes available.