Democratic Representative of the US House Zoe Lofgren of California has written to Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday to express ‘great disappointment’ that her legislation to revise green card caps was yanked from consideration on the House floor, according to a report in Rollcall.com, a website published in Washington, DC, that covers US Congress news on Capitol Hill.
Lofgren, who is a representative from Silicon Valley, California, and chairs the judiciary committee’s immigration panel, is reported to have said that the Bill is “a small and important step forward” to revise the legal immigration system for the first time in decades. It would phase out per country caps on employment-based green cards to reduce lengthy backlogs.
“It is essential that we alleviate the hardships for those who are suffering most under the decades-long immigrant visa backlogs,” Lofgren wrote in the letter, according to the Rollcall.com report.
The Bill, known as Equal Access to Green cards for Legal Employment Act of 2022 or the EAGLE Act of 2022, was introduced in the US House of Representatives by Lofgren in 2021 and seeks to modify requirements related to employment-based visas and addresses related issues.
The provision in the Bill to eliminate the per-country cap for employment-based immigrant visas would benefit thousands of Indians who are in the US on work permit H and L visas and facing huge backlogs in getting green cards or permanent residence. The Bill also proposes to increase the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from 7% of the total number of such visas available that year to 15%. Several large technology companies in the US have backed the EAGLE Act.
The Bill establishes transition rules for employment-based visas such as reserving a percentage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability) and EB-3 (skilled and other workers) visas for individuals not from the two countries with the largest number of recipients of such visas, and allotting a number of visas for professional nurses and physical therapists.
The Bill imposes additional requirements on an employer seeking an H-1B visa, such as prohibiting an employer from advertising that a position is only open to H-1B applicants or that H-1B applicants are preferred, and certain employers from having more than half of their employees as non-immigrant visa workers.
The US Department of Labor shall create a publicly available website where an employer seeking an H-1B visa must post certain information about the open position, according to the Bill. It also expands the Dept of Labor’s authority to review and investigate H-1B applications for fraud or misrepresentations.
The Bill also allows certain aliens to obtain lawful permanent resident status if the alien is in the United States as a non-immigrant, has an approved immigrant visa petition, and has waited at least two years for a visa.
Despite being debated on the House floor on Tuesday and scheduled for a vote, the EAGLE Act was officially bumped from the schedule on Wednesday evening, according to the Rollcall.com report. A House Democratic leadership aide said on Thursday that the Bill was pulled because it didn’t have the votes to pass.