New legislation sailed through the House of Representatives and is on its way to the Senate. The law will end per-country limits for employment immigrants and improve family wait lines from ridiculous to only absurd.
The bill removes the 7% per-country limitation on employment-based visas, which will now be allocated on a first-come first-serve basis. While no new visas are allocated, the proposal makes the system “fairer”. Nationals from the populous countries of India and China currently wait at least 4 years for employment-based second preference (masters degreed) immigrant visas and 7 years for employment-based third preference (skilled worker) immigrant visas. Under new legislation, this could be reduced to as little as 2 years for second preference and 4 years for third preference cases. To the dismay of persons born in countries other than India and China with no current backlog, they will likely have to “take a number” and get in line.
Family-based petitions are also affected by the passing of this legislation. The bill increases per country limits from 7% to 15%. This mainly benefits Filipino and Mexican nationals, who languish in endless visa wait lines. For example, unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens from Mexico may see a reduction from a ridiculous 20 years, to a difficult 10-year wait. Unmarried Filipino-born sons and daughters of U.S. citizens may wait 8 years instead of 15. Conversely, the wait for nationals of other countries will increase. We guesstimate an increase of at least 3-4 years for unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, increasing wait times from 7 years to 10 years. For married children of U.S. citizens, the wait will increase from about 11 years to 14 years.
The proposal will be implemented over a 3-year transition period to ameliorate the impact on foreign nationals and government agencies, especially in the countries most affected such as India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines.
Enthusiastic immigrants from Mexico, the Philippines, China and India await action on Senate Bill S. 1857, which is expected to pass soon and be ready for the President to sign into law. While nationals of these countries are used to being stuck in ridiculous visa waiting lines, with this new legislation, the agony of the wait will be experienced by all. Hopefully, after the election, Congress will be bold enough to enact legislation to resolve the problem instead of merely re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.