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Merit over birthplace: US Congress to debate removing per-country cap on Green Cards

Washington D.C.Edited By: Mukul SharmaUpdated: Dec 09, 2022, 11:37 AM IST
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Photograph:(Reuters)

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Under existing rules, only 9,800 Green Cards can be issued per country. The proposed law seeks to remove this cap while aiming to promote merit as the primary criterion for permanent residency and not birthplace.

The White House on Thursday urged US Congress to pass a law that seeks to eliminate the per-country quota on Green Cards, or permanent residency, to allow US-based employers to focus on hiring people based on merit and not birthplace. 

The House of Representatives, this week, is scheduled to vote on the Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment (EAGLE) Act of 2022. The bill was cleared by the US House Judiciary Committee in April 2022 and will face the test of Congress this week. 

WATCH | US to make it easier for Indians to obtain green cards

If passed, the law would benefit millions of immigrants, especially Indian-Americans and people from the Indian subcontinent, reported news agency PTI.

What is a Green Card?

A Green Card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued to immigrants to the US as evidence that the bearer has been granted the privilege of residing and working permanently in the country. 

US Green Cards: What is per-country cap all about?

Under existing rules, the US issues only 140,000 green cards every year. There is a 7 per cent cap on every country. This translates into just 9,800 people per country for Green Cards. If applicants from one country overshoot the 7 per cent cap, this results in a backlog. The petitions for Green cards beyond the country cap are not considered until their petition falls within the initial 7 per cent per country cap.

EAGLE Act: What difference would it make?

The EAGLE Act would eliminate a per-country cap on employment-based Green Cards. The country-cap policy disproportionately affects Indian immigrants, given the large number of applications. 

The bill proposes the phasing out of per-country caps over a course of nine years to ensure that eligible immigrants from less-populated countries are not excluded as the Act is implemented.

The transition period is nine years. During this period of nine years, visas would be issued for nurses and physical therapists to address urgent needs in the healthcare industry, and for employment-based immigrants and their family members who are not currently in the United States, the White House said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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