How will EAGLE Act benefit H-1Bs in green card backlog?

 

New bipartisan legislation to eliminate per country cap on employment based visas.

At a time, when hundreds of Indians holding American work-based visas are experiencing family separation due to President Joe Biden’s Covid related travel ban, a new bipartisan legislation comes as a pleasant surprise.

Democrat Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Republican House member John Curtis have just introduced the HR 3648 EAGLE Act 2021 or the Equal Access to Green cards for Legal Employment Act.

This bi-partisan legislation is aimed at phasing out the seven percent per country cap on employment based immigrant visas and raising per-country cap on family-sponsored visas to 15 percent.

The basic principle of the bill is the same, that many equal immigration supporters have been advocating for years and brings back the argument on how immigrants should be hired based on their skills and not place of origin.

READ: Indian healthcare workers in green card backlog protest at Capitol Hill (April 12, 2021)

The bill talks about advantages to American economy if the local employers focus on hiring immigrants best suited for the job without sidelining a deserving candidate from a certain country.

“The basic framework for allocating immigrant visas dates back to the middle of the 20th century and was last seriously updated in 1990,” Lofgren said.

“Over time, these limitations have led to backlogs that were unimaginable in 1990,” she says. “The effect is that countries with relatively small populations are allocated the same number of visas as a relatively large-population country.”

“The result? A person from a large country with extraordinary qualifications who could contribute greatly to our economy and create jobs, waits behind a person with lesser qualifications from a smaller country,”  Lofgren said.

READ MORE: Indian American health workers protest green card backlog (March 18, 2021)

“It makes no sense. Because of this, we are now seeing recruiters from outside America, luring those with the highest skills away from the US.” Stressing that this unfair rule is unfair even to the US, she says, “That hurts our economy.”

On how the EAGLE Act helps, Lofgren explains, “The bipartisan act moves our country towards a system that de-emphasizes birthplace and better serves America.”

“Simply put, it will allow US companies to focus on what they do best – hiring smart people to create products and services, which creates jobs in our districts.”

Those who may be following immigration closely may recall that over the years, this bill has had bipartisan support and has been introduced under various names starting with as far back as August 2008 by Lofgren.

More recently, last December, the bill in an amended form had passed the Senate unanimously, but lapsed due to lack of time to reconcile  differences with the House version.

READ: Is Indians’ Green Card backlog limbo about to end? (December 3, 2020)

Curtis too supports the bill as it would lead to employment opportunities in America.

“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 and a first-come, first-served system focused on merit instead of country of origin.”

 

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