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US House approves removal of cap on H1B visa, Indian IT workers to get green cards faster

US House approves removal of cap on H1B visa, Indian IT workers to get green cards faster

The Act - which eliminates the per-country cap on employment-based (H1B) visas instituting a first-come-first-served system - drew broad, bipartisan support.

The US House of Representatives on Tuesday passed with significant majority the Fairness for High Skilled Immigration Act (H.R. 3012) which may allow more highly skilled immigrants from India and China to obtain green cards faster.

The Act - which eliminates the per-country cap on employment-based (H1B) visas instituting a first-come-first-served system - drew broad, bipartisan support, passing the House with a vote of 389-15.

The Bill is expected to move swiftly through the Senate.

The Act aims to correct imbalances in terms of obtaining a green card, specially for individuals from India who often have to wait up to 10 years for a green card due to the per-country cap. India is the source of most tech industry immigrants to the US.

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At present, immigration law limits employment-based green cards, allowing permanent residence for citizens from any one country to no more than seven per cent of the total green cards approved by the State Department in any particular year.

The rule makes it easier to obtain a green card for applicants from smaller countries that don't generate a significant amount of applications, but makes it tougher for workers from big countries that provide most of the foreign tech workers sought by companies.

The High-Skilled Immigration Act, which was introduced to Congress in September by Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz, aims to correct such imbalances by switching to a first come, first served system for the roughly 140,000 employment-based green cards awarded each year.

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"Per country limits make no sense in the context of employment-based visas. Companies view all highly skilled immigrants as the same regardless of where they are from - be it India or Brazil," Chaffetz said in a statement.

In addition to eliminating numerical caps on employment-based green cards, the Act would also raise the per-country cap for 226,000 family-related green cards from seven per cent of the total to 15 per cent.

The Bill's bipartisan support owes much to the fact that it does nothing to increase the total number of green cards awarded, it simply evens out the process for those looking to emigrate to the US.

American technology companies have been clamouring for Congress to offer more green cards for their foreign employees, arguing that the United States was losing out in global competition by forcing those immigrants to leave.

- With IANS inputs