|For Immediate Release
October 27, 2011
Contact: Jessica Baker, 202-225-3951
Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith
Markup of H.R. 3012, the “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act”
Chairman Smith: Our immigration system should be designed to benefit Americans and our economy.
The Immigration and Nationality Act generally provides that the total number of family-sponsored and employment-based green cards available to natives of any one country cannot exceed 7% of the total number of green cards available each year.
Because of these annual numerical caps on green cards and the fact that some countries have more of the skilled workers that American employers want, natives of these countries must often wait years longer for green cards than natives of other countries.
In the employment-based second preference category for professionals with advanced degrees and aliens of exceptional ability, green cards are now immediately available to approved applicants from most countries. However, because employers seek so many workers from India and China, the per-country caps result in green cards only being available to those natives who first applied on or before November 2007, four years ago.
In the employment-based third preference category for professionals with bachelor’s degrees and skilled workers, green cards are now available to applicants from most countries who first applied on or before December 2005. However, because employers seek so many workers from India and China, the per-country caps result in green cards only being available to natives of China who first applied on or before August 2004, and for natives of India, on or before July 2002.
Similar per-country caps exist in the family-sponsored green card categories. That is why natives of most countries who are siblings of U.S. citizens have green cards available if they first applied on or before June 2000. However, siblings from the Philippines have had to wait since 1988.
H.R. 3012, the “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act”, was introduced by Jason Chaffetz and is appreciated by many in the business community as well. The bill eliminates the employment-based per-country cap entirely by fiscal year 2013. It also raises the family-sponsored per-country cap from 7% to 15%.
This legislation makes sense. Why should American employers who seek green cards for skilled foreign workers have to wait longer just because the workers are from India or China?
American business employers have already proven to the U.S. government that they need these workers, that qualified Americans are not available and that American workers will not be harmed.
It makes sense to repeal the employment-based per-country caps.
I also understand that many Members would like to increase the family-sponsored green card per-country caps from 7% to 15%. This bill does that too. I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 3012.