Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act

The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2011 was proposed to relieve the backup in the system for granting Permanent residency permits, and green cards to highly skilled immigrants who work for companies in the United States on temporary visas. Many of these immigrants have been working in the United States for years, they are forced to remain here on a “temporary” basis and renew their temporary visas such as H1-b every time the visa expires. This is frustrating for individuals, and it is frustrating for businesses. Not only is the system for granting permanent status backed up, the limited number of visas like the H1-b are stifled with renewal applications from workers already in the US working for companies.

Companies, especially in high-tech areas such as the Silicon Valley, cannot fill their open high-skilled positions. There are not enough US citizen workers to fill these positions so companies look to fill their highly-skilled positions from qualified foreign applicants. The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act would make it possible for businesses to fill the most in-demand positions with these highly-qualified applicants.

The Fairness Act would ultimately eliminate the per county percentage cap for employment-based immigrants. Currently the cap is set the same for all countries at 7%. This means that a country like Iceland with a population of roughly 320,000 people is eligible for the same amount of green cards issued annually as a country like India which has a population of roughly 1.2 billion people. India and China, where the majority of these highly-skilled immigrants currently come from, rank highest in the demand-supply mismatch for green cards.

The act is not without flaws. The Fairness Act would eliminate the per country limit for employment-based immigrants, but it does not increase the overall number of employment-based visas. Thus, while the processing times for Indian and Chinese green card applicants would be reduced, processing for applicants form other countries would likely be slowed even further.

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