In December 2020, the Senate unanimously passed the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2020, which is an amended version of a similarly titled 2019 bill. The amended bill eliminates country-based quotas for employment-based immigrant visas. It also adds other requirements to H-1B visas.
Some of the many changes that the bill establishes include:
- An increase in the country cap on family-based immigrant visas from 7% of the total number of visas for a particular year to 15%
- Elimination of the 7% cap on employment-based immigrant visas
- Cap on H-1B and H-4 visas to a total of 70% of all employment-based immigrant visas for the next nine years and to 50% in subsequent years
- Elimination of the provision that reduced restrictions on the number of visas for individuals from China
- Establishment of transitional rules for employment-based visas for FFY 2020 to 2022, which:
- Reserve certain numbers of EB-2 and EB-3 visas for people who are not from the two countries with the largest numbers of these visa recipients, which are India and China
- Prevents more than 85% of these visas being for people who are from any one country
- Establishes some limitations on H-1B visa recipients who are affiliated with the Chinese government
- Guarantees for a specific number of visa applicants who are nurses and physical therapists
Perhaps most importantly, all employment-based visa applicants would receive visas on a first-come, first-served basis, regardless of their country of origin. This legislation would phase in the major changes over an 11-year period.
Unfortunately, differences between the bill passed by the Senate and alterations in the bill requested by members of the House did not resolve prior to the end of the 116th Session of Congress, leaving the bill dead. A previous version of the bill met the same fate in 2019.
It remains to be seen whether any version of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act will be introduced by members of either house of Congress in the future. With a newly elected administration and Congress, it is likely that measures such as this bill may resurface.
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