New Bill Introduced To Recapture Unused Visas
On April 4, 2022, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) introduced H.R. 7374, the “Jumpstart our Legal Immigration System Act,” a bill that would recapture approximately 400,000 family- and employment-based visas, create an accelerated path to adjustment of status for those already in the United States, and provide additional funds to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to improve visa processing. Much of the bill was included in the House-passed version of the Build Back Better Act.
According to a statement from Rep. Lofgren, the legislation would:
· Amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to prevent the future loss of unused employment-based visas by ensuring that they roll over to the family-based categories.
· Recapture unused immigrant visas from 1992 through 2021, including approximately 222,000 unused family-sponsored visas and approximately 157,000 employment-based visas.
· Allow an estimated 40,000 individuals who were selected for, but did not receive, diversity visas to reapply for such visas. These individuals were unable to finalize the process or enter the United States due to various executive orders or COVID-related office closures and restrictions.
· Allow individuals who are in the United States and eligible for adjustment to legal permanent resident (LPR) status except for the lack of an available visa number to apply for adjustment upon paying a fee. “This will allow individuals to receive work authorization while they wait for a visa number to become available and will prevent dependent children from ‘aging out’ of eligibility for LPR status,” Rep. Lofgren’s statement noted.
· Allow immigrants who are in the United States to receive an exemption from the immigrant visa numerical limits and adjust their status to permanent residence if their immigrant visa petition has been approved for two years and they pay a supplemental fee.
SOURCES: ABIL Newsletter, April 10, 2022, and , https://lofgren.house.gov/media/press-releases/lofgren-introduces-jumpstart-our-legal-immigration-system-act and , https://lofgren.house.gov/sites/lofgren.house.gov/files/4.3.22%20-%20Jumpstart%20our%20Legal%20Immigration%20System%20Act%20Full%20Text.pdf
Bill That Would Slash Visa Country Caps Advances in House
The House Judiciary Committee voted to advance a bill that would eliminate the Immigration and Nationality Act’s per-country cap for employment-based visas and raise similar caps on family-based visas, aimed at trimming immigration backlogs.
Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and John Curtis, R-Utah, had introduced the Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment Act of 2021, or EAGLE Act, in June. At a time when backlogs have drawn litigation from frustrated visa-seekers, the bill would distribute wait times more evenly among nations.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act as it currently stands, of the around 490,000 family-based visas and 140,000 employment-based visas allotted annually, only 7% of each category may be allotted to recipients from a single country. This puts countries with larger populations on par with smaller ones, leaving applicants from China and India facing disproportionately long wait times.
The bill would phase out caps on employment-based visas over the course of nine years, reserving a slowly narrowing percentage of visas for countries outside the two nations with the highest demand for immigrant visas, currently China and India, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
And the EAGLE Act would immediately hike the per-nation limits on family-based visas to 15%.
The bill would also set aside visas for physical therapists and nurses and would ensure no single nation accounts for more than 85% of the EB-2 and EB-3 visas allocated annually.
In addition to raising or removing caps with specific set-asides for certain jobs and visa types, the bill would mandate that the U.S. Department of Labor create a public website where H-1B employers can post about open positions.
The EAGLE Act would also expand requirements for H-1B visas, authorize more investigations for fraud and allow noncitizens with approved immigrant visa petitions waiting more than two years in the U.S. to obtain lawful permanent resident status.
After being advanced by the House Committee, the bill will now advance to the House floor.
The bill builds on its predecessor, the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, introduced by Lofgren in 2019. Though the bill was passed by both the House and the Senate, the Senate made significant changes including an exclusionary provision for noncitizens affiliated with the Chinese military or Chinese Communist Party that the House was ultimately unable to reconcile.
Source: Grace Dixon, Law360.com, April 7, 2022: https://www.law360.com/articles/1481912/house-committee-advances-bill-slashing-visa-country-caps
USCIS Implements ‘Risk-Based’ Approach for Conditional Permanent Resident Interview
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 7, 2022, that it is adopting a “risk-based” approach when waiving interviews for certain conditional permanent residents (CPR) who have filed a petition to remove the conditions on their permanent resident status.
Effective immediately, new criteria will guide USCIS officers on when to waive interviews for CPRs who filed a Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. This update replaces previous agency guidance that required all CPRs to undergo an interview if they obtained CPR status via consular processing, the agency said.
SOURCES: ABIL Newsletter, April 10, 2022, and https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/news-releases/uscis-implements-risk-based-approach-for-conditional-permanent-resident-interviews