US house votes to end country caps for work visas

December 1, 2011 - Washington: In what could be a boon for highly-skilled workers from countries like India seeking green cards and firms who hire them, the House of Representatives have passed a bill to end per-country caps on worker-based immigration visas. The bill eliminates the cap placed on the number of green cards that are available to each country annually.

Many people seeking the card had to wait for as long as 70 years to get a green card under the existing law. But now, employment-based green cards will be handled on a first-come-first-served basis with no limits on the country whose citizens would be given the US permanent residency. T

he bill, passed by the US House of Representative in a voice vote on Tuesday, completely eliminates the per-country caps for employment-based visas and raises the per-country cap from seven per cent to 15 per cent for family-based visas. The current Immigration and Nationality Act generally provides that the total number of employment-based immigrant visas made available to natives of any single foreign country in a year cannot exceed seven per cent of the total number of such visas made available in that year. This has resulted in applications, in particular by large number of qualified Indians, being rejected. Supporters of this bill termed it as pro-growth and pro-job. Speaking on the floor of the House in support of the bill, Congressman Steve Cohen said the bill removes the so-called "per-country" limits from applying to employment based green cards.

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