On November 29, 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (H.R. 3012).  The bill eliminates the per-country numerical limitation on employment-based green card numbers by fiscal year 2015.  The bill also increases family-based visa limits from 7% per country to 15% per country.

Under current law, the total number of employment-based immigrant visas made available to natives of any foreign country in a given year cannot exceed 7% of the total number of such visas made available in that year.  H.R. 3012 eliminates this per-country percentage cap.

If enacted into law, the green card wait times for employment-based immigrants from high-volume user countries, such as China and India, would be reduced.  Concomitantly, slower processing for natives of all countries seems likely.

The bill must still pass the U.S. Senate and be signed into law by the President.  Ogletree Deakins is monitoring developments with respect to this legislation and will provide updates as the bill progresses through Congress.

Companies should be aware that, if H.R. 3012 becomes law, the elimination of per-country numerical limitations will make immigrant visas immediately available for nationals of China and India in categories that are currently backlogged.  H.R. 3012 will also create backlogs for natives of other countries whose visa numbers are current at this time.  Companies that intend to sponsor foreign nationals from a non-high-volume user country should move forward as soon as possible to preserve a favorable priority date.



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Ogletree Deakins has one of the largest business immigration practices in the United States and provides a wide range of legal services for employers seeking temporary business visas and permanent residence on behalf of foreign national employees.

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