Federal Legislation to Remove Country-Caps for Employment Based Immigrant Visas Introduced in U.S. Senate

Federal Legislation to Remove Country Caps for Employment Based Immigrant Visas

A bill to remove the 7% limit per country on employment-based immigrant visas has reached the United States Senate. This bill, the Equal Access to Green Cards for Employment (EAGLE) Act of 2022, would phase out the limit on employment-based visas in favor of a merit-based system. This bill, introduced earlier in the U.S. House of Representatives, cleared the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in April.

U.S. immigration laws allow 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas (green cards) to be issued annually, with only 7% of the total available to the residents of any one country. Therefore, the surplus will be a backlog if a country has more than 7% individuals sponsored for green cards. Approvals for the backlog are available only when the petitions do not exceed the original 7% country cap. This limit causes significant backlogs for countries such as China or India.

The new bill will have a phased-in system, helping those who waited the longest for green cards. The Eagle Act would reserve green cards and have a transition period before eliminating the 7% per-country cap for employment-based immigrant visas. Due to the bill, the transition period will keep immigrants from countries with lower admission rates from waiting significantly longer for green cards.

The Eagle Act would also allow individuals waiting two or more years to file for an adjustment status before a green card is available. This change would permit individuals to obtain portable employment and travel authorization. In addition, the Act helps families by making children eligible no matter their age when a visa becomes available.

The new bill also includes the following:

  • New requirements for oversight and reporting,
  • New fees for H-1B highly-skilled temporary worker program, and
  • More protections for U.S. workers.

The bill could offer significant benefits for employers by permitting them to recruit candidates based on merit rather than their country of origin.

However, for employers considering hiring foreign nationals, it is necessary to keep the additional documentation requirements in mind, not least of which is the Form I-9. This form can be confusing due to the frequently changing regulations. The best way to correctly complete Form I-9 is to invest in an electronic I-9 management system.

Electronic systems will guide hiring personnel through every step of the process and safely and securely store the form until it is needed.

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