Bill to eliminate green card per-country caps put on hold

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Washington: Influential American Senator Chuck Grassley has blocked a bill to eliminate per-country caps on employment-sponsored green card, putting on hold a legislation that would have benefited highly-skilled Indian workers seeking to stay in the US.

The bill, the "Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act" (HR 3012), which sailed through the US House of Representatives last week on a 389 to 15 vote, had been sent to the Senate for consideration.

Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has been fighting for major changes in the H-1B rules, placed a "hold" on the bill, saying "it does nothing to better protect Americans."

"I rise to inform my colleagues that I am placing a hold on HR 3012, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act," Grassley said on the Senate floor. "I have concerns about the impact of this bill on future immigration flows, and am concerned that it does nothing to better protect Americans at home who seek high-skilled jobs during this time of record high unemployment," he said.

The bill if signed into law will completely eliminate 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. Many people seeking the card had to wait for as long as 70 years to get a green card under the existing law.

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