What is the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019?

In July 0f 2019, the United States House of Representatives passed the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act by a wide margin. Currently, the bill is still making its way through the Senate—though, with 35 co-sponsors, including prominent Democrats such as California Senator Kamala Harris and prominent Republicans such as Utah Senator Mitt Romney, there is a good chance it will eventually become law in the future. Here, our Los Angeles immigration lawyer explains the most important things you need to know about the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act. 

What Does the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act Do?

The purpose of the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act is to address a lengthy green card backlog. Unfortunately, delays are a serious issue throughout the entire U.S. immigration system. Notably, California has the largest immigration court backlog in the entire country. Though only in a relatively narrow way, the proposed law aims to reduce certain aspects of the immigration backlog. Specifically, the bill would: 

1. Remove Country-Based Caps on Employment Visas: Under the current immigration system, employment visas are strictly capped on a country-by-country basis. For certain countries, the waiting list is truly enormous. For example, immigrants from India who have advanced degrees are dealing with a shocking 150-year wait time. The bill seeks to reform the employment visa system to more of a first-come, first-served basis—removing certain country-based limitations on employment visas.  

2. Increase the Country-Based Limitation: Under current U.S. law, no country can make up more than 7 percent of the collective employment and family preference visas issued within a given year. The bill passed by the House of Representatives would raise that limitation to 15 percent.

The Effect of the Law Would Depend on Country of Origin

Although there are elements of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act that are unquestionably good for immigrants, the net effect that the law would have on any particular immigrant would depend on their country of origin. 

As was mentioned, immigrants of Indian origin who are seeking employment visas would benefit under the proposed reforms. India is currently the country that is most directly affected by the caps on employment visas. China is another example of a country subject to a large employment visa backlog.

Additionally, immigrants from Mexico and the Philippines, who are dealing with extremely long wait times as a result of country-based family preference visa caps, would also benefit. Currently, it can take decades for these types of applicants to have their file be reviewed and processed. 

That being said, immigrants who come from low-demand countries who are seeking employment visas would be adversely affected by this law. This is because they would move to the back of the line. 

Do You Have Questions About Immigration Law?

We can help. At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, our California immigration lawyer has the skills and knowledge needed to handle the full range of employment visa cases. Call us now at (213) 262-2000 for a strictly confidential review of your case. We represent clients in Los Angeles and throughout the whole of Southern California.