Rand Paul Bill fixes HR 1044 Removal of Per Country Cap Bill with a Bill that would double Employment-based Green Cards
By Mona Shah, Esq. and Hermione M. Krumm, Esq.
On July 10th, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 1044, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, that aims to remove per-country caps for employment-based visas, including EB-5. For a detailed discussion on the bill, please refer to our published article “EB-5 Regulations Get Closer to the Finishing Line…HR 1044…Should the EB-5 Industry be Worried?” here.
While HR 1044 passed the House, it is yet to pass in the U.S. Senate and be signed by the President to become law.
A companion bill on the Senate’s side, S.386 (Sen. Lee, R-UT), which does not provide a transition period for EB-5, was recently “hot lined,” i.e. the bill was distributed to all the Senate offices for review. A hot lined bill may be passed with unanimous consent if no Senator puts it on hold for any reason. If a Senator raises any issue, however, the process can be stopped, and the bill may be on hold for an indefinite time.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has voiced its opposition to S.386, which resonates with the EB-5 industry’s widespread belief that the bill would likely kill the industry (or at least, the rest of the world apart from China) for years to come until the Chinese visa backlog is cleared, for any new investor will need to wait approximately 8 years for a visa number pursuant to its enforcement.
“The Department of Homeland Security does not support S. 386. The bill would do nothing to move the current employer-sponsored system toward a more merit-based system. The adverse effect on immigrant visa wait times for nationals of countries currently with lesser demand would be an obstacle to any potential plan to promote or increase immigration from countries who immigrants present reduced risk, such as Visa Waiver Program countries, or any other class of countries which the Administration may desire to provide preferential treatment (e.g., countries with which the U.S. has negotiated favorable trade deals).” – Joseph Joh, Assistant Director and Senior Adviser for the Office of Legislative Affairs at DHS.
Employment-Based Green Cards Would Double Under Senator Rand Paul’s Senate Bill
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), a public opponent of HR 1044 and S. 386 (and an EB-5 supporter) has placed “a hold” on S.386 and introduced his own bill yesterday (July 11, 2019) that changes the per country limitation (without elimination) and would have the effect of doubling the number of green cards in S.2091 Backlog Elimination, Legal Immigration, and Employment Visa Enhancement (BELIEVE) Act.
“No legislation since the 2013 immigration reform bill that passed the Senate would increase skilled immigration more than this bill. A fourfold increase in employment-based permanent immigration would bring the United States more in line with the Canadian system…” (https://www.cato.org/blog/sen-pauls-believe-act-raises-skilled-migration-without-tradeoffs)
Specifically, the bill would:
- Remove the country based green card limits for employment based Green cards explicitly
- EB1, EB2, EB3 will get 29.63% of total available employment based green cards instead of current 28.6%.
- EB4’s allocation of green cards is cut by half to 3.7% from current 7.1%
- EB5 gets an increase of just .31% to take them from 7.1 to 7.41% of total employment-based GCs.
- Exempts spouses and minor children of employment-based immigrants from the limit
- Provides employment authorization and legal status while waiting for a green card
- Provides employment authorization to spouses and minor children of temporary worker
While EB-5 only benefits from .31% increase, the removal of dependents from the present quota certainly provides a huge visa relief. The allowance for concurrent filing would also greatly benefit domestic investors.
MSA is on the IIUSA Leadership and Public Policy Committees and will share the most up-to-date first-hand information with our readers. Stay tuned for the updates!