Washington, January 2, 2019: Eliminating the country quota from the most sought-after Green Cards will end the current discrimination in the US labor market, but would allow countries like India and China to dominate the path to American citizenship, according to the latest Congressional report.
Having a Green Card allows a person to live and work permanently in the United States.
Indian-Americans, most of whom are highly skilled and come to the US mainly on the H-1B work visas, are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system which imposes a seven percent per country quota on allotment of Green Cards or the Legal Permanent Residency (LPR).
The bipartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), an independent research wing of Congress, said if the per-country cap for employment-based immigrants was removed, many expect that Indian and Chinese nationals would dominate the flow of new employment-based LPRs for as many years as needed to clear out the accumulated queue of prospective immigrants from those countries.
This queue would include those with approved employment-based immigrant petitions waiting to file either a visa application with Department of State or an adjustment of status application with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the CRS said in its latest report.
Lawmakers favoring eliminating the per-country cap contend that such circumstances effectively encourage employers to sponsor prospective employment-based immigrants primarily from India.
Proponents argue that removing the per-country ceiling from employment-based immigrants would “level the playing field” by making immigrants from all countries more equally attractive to employers, the CRS said.
According to the CRS, eliminating the per-country ceiling would reduce certain queues of prospective immigrants more quickly, and remove the perceived employer incentive to choose nationals from these countries over other countries.
“Shorter wait times for LPR status might actually incentivize greater numbers of nationals from India, China, and the Philippines to seek employment-based LPR status. If that were to occur, the reduction in the number of approved petitions pending might be short-lived.
“A handful of countries could conceivably dominate employment-based immigration, possibly benefiting certain industries that employ foreign workers from those countries, at the expense of foreign workers from other countries and other industries that might employ them,” the CRS said.
Because the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) grants LPRs the ability to sponsor family members through its family-sponsorship provisions, removing the per-country ceiling would alter, to an unknown extent, the country-of-origin composition of subsequent family-based immigrants acquiring LPR status each year, it said.
Changes in the country’s demographic profile tilted towards people from one part of the world were one of the prime reasons for the current per country quota. This, on the other hand, restricts the flow of the best talented foreign workers.
The INA allocates 1,40,000 visas annually for all five employment-based LPR categories, roughly 12 percent of the 1.1 million LPRs admitted in fiscal 2017. It further limits each immigrant-sending country to an annual maximum of seven percent of all employment-based LPR admissions, known as the per-country ceiling, or “cap”.
Two popular employment-based pools of foreign nationals, who have been approved as employment-based immigrants but must wait for statutorily limited visa numbers, totaled in excess of 9,00,000 as of mid-2018. Most originate from India, followed by China and the Philippines, the CRS said.
Some employers maintained that they continue to need skilled foreign workers to remain internationally competitive and to keep their firms in the US, it said.
Proponents of increasing employment-based immigration levels argue it is vital for economic growth. Opponents cite the lack of compelling evidence of labor shortages and argue that the presence of foreign workers can negatively impact wages and working conditions in the US, the CRS said.
“Some argue that eliminating the per-country ceiling would increase the flow of high-skilled immigrants from countries such as India and China, who are often employed in the US technology sector, without increasing the total annual admission of employment-based LPRs,” it added. PTI
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