Bipartisan legislation seeks to fix green card backlogs

Bipartisan legislation seeks to fix green card backlogs

Two bipartisan bills seek to eliminate the per-country cap on employment-based U.S. green cards and raise the per-country cap for family-based green cards. The bills address the green card backlog to make the immigration system more efficient.

Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) re-introduced the bipartisan Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment (EAGLE) Act in the Senate (S. 3291). Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, Representatives Rich McCormick (R-GA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) introduced the Immigration Visa Efficiency and Security (IVES) Act (H.R. 6542).

Senator Hickenlooper called the EAGLE Act “a commonsense fix to our immigration system that will reduce visa backlogs.” In a post on social media, Representative McCormick called the immigration system “broken for those who are trying to legally come to our country for a better way of life” and added that it needed a change.

Many prospective employment-based immigrants live and work on temporary visas in the U.S. while waiting for visa availability. Some remain in temporary status for years due to caps applied to their country of birth.

These bipartisan bills seek to ease the backlog for those who wait the longest and would phase out the 7% per-country limit on employment-based immigrant visas, one of them being the EB-5 program, and double the 7% per-country limit on family-sponsored visas to 15%.

They are also another attempt to rally support for these measures and are adapted from earlier bipartisan legislation, namely The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, that passed both the House and the Senate but was not sent to the President to sign.

Supporters of the bills say reforming the caps would mean individuals and their families can avoid long wait times due to their country of origin, and the bills would be a first step to decrease backlogs.

The potential impact of IVES and EAGLE on EB-5

More than 1.2 million immigrants and their families in the country are waiting in green card backlogs. More than 21,000 are EB-5 investors, according to data from immigration advocacy group

By reforming the caps, the bills address backlogs, which have long troubled EB-5 investors. But would they directly impact EB-5 investors?

“These bills do not directly relate to EB-5,” says Mitch Wexler from Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP. He says the bills look to eliminate the per-country quotas over some time in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories. “If passed, this would help Indian and Chinese green card applicants in those categories,” says Wexler.

But, as a result, Wexler says that would likely impact demand for Eb-5 from India and China “since they would have a viable path to a green card, hopefully within a reasonable period through employer sponsorship.” He says they would not need to put $800,000 or $1,050,000 at risk for several years in an EB-5 project.

Meanwhile, Carl Shusterman, immigration lawyer, Law Offices of Carl Shusterman, says “The EAGLE and IVES Acts would eliminate per-country caps on employment-based green cards.”

If the bills become law, Shusterman adds, immigrants from China and India “would no longer have to wait in long lines to get green cards as EB-5 investors.”

However, Shusterman does caution it would increase waiting times for EB-5 investors from other countries.

“A better solution would be to amend these acts to allow immigrants to recapture unused green cards from the last two decades,” adds Shusterman. “This would shorten waiting times for immigrants from China and India without dramatically increasing waiting times for EB-5 investors from other countries.”

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