House of Representatives Passing Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act is Positive Step in Immigration Reform

Washington, DC (July 11, 2019) — Yesterday, the US House of Representatives passed H.R. 1044, the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, bipartisan legislation that would reform the US legal immigration system in ways that legalize and increase high skilled workers coming to the US.

Introduced by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Ken Buck (R-CO), H.R. 1044, garnered broad bipartisan support with over 300 cosponsors, and passed by a vote of 389-65. It will now goes to the Senate for consideration.

“In order for American industries to remain competitive and create more jobs, they must be able to recruit and retain the best talent in the world,” said Rep. Lofgren, Chair of the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship. “This becomes increasingly difficult when workers from high-population countries must compete for the same limited number of visas as workers from low population countries. Our bipartisan bill would phase-in a visa system where the applicant’s nationality is irrelevant, providing relief to individuals who’ve waited patiently for a green card for years, if not decades, while they continue to work and contribute to our economy.”

This legislation brings a dose of much-needed fairness to US immigration policy by clearing the sometimes decade-long waitlist for a Green Card. Due to these caps, high skilled workers from India, many of whom are Hindu, wait a disproportionate longer amount of time for a Green Card, compared to equally-qualified works from other nations.

Specifically, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, would:

  • Eliminate the “per country” cap for employment-based immigrant visas so all workers are treated equally.
  • This provision would be implemented over a 3-year phase-in period: during year one, no more than 85 percent of employment-based visas may be allocated to India or China; in years two and three, no more than 90 percent of employment-based visas may be allocated to India or China.
  • Also during this period, a safety provision would prevent visas from going unused.
  • Ensure that immigrants who have an approved employment-based visa petition prior to the bill’s date of enactment don’t lose their place in line.
  • Raise the “per country” cap for family-sponsored immigrant visas from 7 percent to 15 percent.

“I’m glad to see this bill come before the House for consideration,” said Rep. Buck, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship. “It’s time to ease the backlogs and leverage the talent and expertise of our high-skilled immigrants who help strengthen the U.S. economy and fill knowledge gaps in certain fields. These are people who have helped America grow and thrive as a nation of immigrants and we need to make sure our system continues to value those who are following our laws and doing the right thing.”

The Hindu American Foundation has advocated for fair US immigration reform since 2003, specifically pushing immigration reform legislation in 2006, again in 2013, and pushed for a previous version of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act last session by making it a top HAF priority of the 2017 Advocacy Day in Washington, DC. This year, HAF was one of several organizations who worked with Congress to advance H.R. 1044.

“I am still awaiting my green card and it has been "under process” for more than a year now. It has been a long, arduous, and often frustrating process to say the least,” stated Shoumik Dabir of Houston, TX who is currently interning with HAF in Washington, DC. “Indian-origin immigrants constitute one of the hardest working communities in America and have undoubtedly been a force for good in American society. Giving them a fair shot at getting their Green Card is the least we can do.”

“We want to thank Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Ken Buck for their leadership, and all the members from both sides of the aisle who carried this bill over the finish line today,” stated Jay Kansara, Director of Government Relations, Hindu American Foundation. “It’s now up to the Senate, and ultimately the President, to ensure that fairness is delivered to high-skilled immigrants stuck in a decades-long backlog, simply by virtue of their country of origin, waiting for their chance to become full-fledged contributors to the US economy. The time to act is now.”