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Carl Shusterman's Immigration Update

55,000 Green Cards for Employment-Based Immigrants

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Think that the Democrats and Republicans in Congress will never be able to agree about immigration policy?

Better think again!

When I started working as an immigration attorney, Jerry Ford was the President of the United States. Over the past 35 years, I have seen the two parties unite to pass dozens of immigration laws.

Yes, I know the parties are so divided on the issue of what to do about the 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. that they couldn't even get together a few weeks ago to pass the DREAM Act.

However, when it comes to reforming the legal immigration system, things are very different. The parties have come together to pass dozens of bills providing immigration benefits including the Child Status Protection Act in 2002, the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Reauthorization Act in 2005, the Physicians for Underserved Areas Act in 2007, and the bill that ended the Widow's Penalty in 2009.

So, what's on tap for 2011?

On January 6, 2011, Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced H.R. 43, a bill which would "amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate the diversity immigrant program and to re-allocate those visas to certain employment-based immigrants who obtain an advanced degree in the United States."

In simple English, the bill would eliminate the annual green card lottery and give the 55,000 green cards each year to foreign-born graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in the sciences or in medicine.

With the employment-based second preference category (EB-2) backlogged for many years for persons born in India and mainland China, our country would benefit greatly if 55,000 more green cards were available annually for highly-educated people.

Sure, the bill could be tweaked to provide that the green cards could be given to anyone with an advanced degree, not just those with degrees from U.S. universities. Unused numbers should drop down to help those waiting in the EB-3 category. Also, the bill could be amended to increase or eliminate country quotas in the employment-based categories.

For many years, our country imported over 100,000 persons annually on H-1B temporary professional visas. Congress raised the H-1B quotas, but did not expand the employment-based preference numbers. The result was that hundreds of thousands of highly-educated immigrant workers came legally to the U.S., were sponsored by their U.S. employers for green cards, met all the qualifications and jumped through all the legal hoops, and are now stuck in lines that can only be measured not in years, but in decades.

If the United States wants to remain the world leader in the sciences, in medicine, in biotech and in information technology, we had better revise our immigration laws so that we continue to attract the world's best and brightest.

H.R. 43 is a step in the right direction.

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Updated 12-02-2013 at 02:12 PM by CShusterman


  1. sd's Avatar
    for EB - shouldn't there be something like if you are employed in the US, legally, for x number of years you should be given green card automatically, provided you have stayed crime free, have passed all background checks etc. with current wait periods i think i can get FB based GC before i get my EB GC.
  2. sd's Avatar
    another way to look at it is - its much better to have people working here rather than moving jobs to other countries. atleast they create supporting jobs for US citizens. IBM india has more than 150,000+ employees. i am sure if there were no visa restrictions a significant number of jobs would have stayed in the US.
    so jobs will move where ever companies can find right talent in the number they need.
    of my 10+ yrs in the US i havent seen any american company who prefers H1b over green card holders and GC holders over citizens. citizens are always given first preference. H1s, GCs are hired only when there are not enough citizens.
  3. eb3's Avatar
    Surprising that immigration lawyers are speaking out in favor of the skilled worker/legal community. The amount of lawyer fees that can be got from 55,000 legal immigrants is peanuts compared to the bonanza awaiting them when 12 million illegals are given amnesty. But looks like they did the maths and figured that most people stuck in backlog are on EAD anyway (because of July 2007 fiasco), so there is not much fees to be got from them in terms of H1-B extensions every 3 years. So they are slowly realizing that mass amnesty is not going to happen in the current political environment (even though Sen. Reid introduced CIR again today) so they are finally speaking in favor of skilled legal immigration reform.
  4. Mike Jones's Avatar
    I have an EB-5 regional center question. How is it that USCIS can require a regional center's investment to be contiguous within a region of the U.S.? They failed to define what they consider to be a geographic region/area of the U.S. in the statute or regulations and then they turn around and in a memo require that the investment be contiguous within a region of the country. How is this not an APA violation and has anyone had any success in challenging this regulating through guidance technique?
  5. BP's Avatar
    @SD: The primary reason they are in India is Cost. Yes, it is also about talent but none of them will move here unless one wants to get paid Indian Salary ...
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