Green Card Current Affairs - 2019
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United States’ House of Representatives has passed a Bill titled Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, or HR 1044, by an overwhelming 365-65 votes in a 435-member House to remove 7% country-cap on green card applicants. The development could end agonising wait of tens of thousands of skilled professionals from countries like India who have sought permanent residency in USA.
Salient Features of Bill
The HR 1044 Bill, when signed into law would increase the per-country cap on Family-Based Immigrant Visas from 7% of total number of such visas available that year to 15%, and will also eliminate 75 cap for Employment-Based Immigrant Visas.
It removes an offset that reduced number of visas for individuals belonging to China.
Green Card: allows a non-US citizen to live and work permanently in USA.
Need: Indian Information Technology (IT) professionals, who mostly go to US on H-1B work visas, are worst sufferers of current immigration system, which imposes a 7% per country quota on allotment of green card, or permanent legal residency.
Reservation: The Bill establishes transition rules for employment-based visas from Financial Year 2020-2022 by reserving certain percentage of EB-2 i.e. workers with advanced degrees/exceptional ability, EB-3 i.e. skilled and other workers and EB-5 (investors) visas for individuals not from two countries with largest number of recipients of such visas.
Out of unreserved visas, not more than 85% shall be allotted to immigrants from any single country.
Significance: This Bill will help ensure that those seeking permanent residency (PR) will not have to face extraordinary wait times which is sometimes projected at 50 years or more for people from countries such as China and India simply because of their country of origin.
Way Ahead: The bill has to be passed by Senate (Upper Chamber of US Congress), where ruling Republican Party enjoys a majority, before it can be signed into law by President Donald Trump.
The United States President Donald Trump has proposed rolling out of a new immigration plan named ‘merit-based immigration system’. The announcement was made in his recent immigration policy address speech in Rose Garden at White House.
- About: The new ‘merit and point based immigration policy’ recently proposed by US President Trump will replace the existing green cards (given by US) with ‘Build America’ visa.
- Criteria: As per President Trump under the proposed system of merit-based immigration, the permanent legal residency would be given based on the individual’s points for their age, civic sense, job opportunities and knowledge. Besides this all immigrants applying will be required to pass a civics exam prior to admission and learn English.
- Benefits: The proposals will significantly increase quota for highly-skilled workers from existing nearly 12% to 57%. The merit-based immigration system will stand to benefit all the foreigners, including thousands of Indian skilled workers and working professionals wo are waiting to get permanent legal residency or Green Cards.
- Difficulty: The proposals would still have to be approved by Congress where currently Democrats (opposition party to Trump’s Republican Party) control the lower house.
- Every year United States issues about 1.1 million green cards, which gives foreign nationals life-time permission to work and live in US and also act a path to citizenship in five years. Currently most of cards are issued based on family links and diversity visa which favours applicants with family ties to the US. Under this current system only a small section of green card is given to people who are highly skilled and professionals.
- Also President Trump has always taken a hard line view on immigration starting from 2016. Even in early 2019 he declared a national emergency on the US southern border (US-Mexican border), claiming of building the wall to halt all illegal migration.