December 19, 2023
A group of U.S. House of Representatives lawmakers recently introduced House Bill 6542 (HR 6542). According to the lawmakers, it would significantly adjust the per-country limits for lawful permanent residence, also known as green cards. For example, a notable change would remove the 7% per-country limit on employment-based immigrant visas.
What is HR 6542?
HR 6542 is officially called the Immigration Visa Efficiency and Security Act of 2023. Lawmakers introduced it to the House and referred it to the House Committee on the Judiciary on December 1, 2023. According to the bill’s sponsors, this legislation seeks to overhaul the current immigration visa system.
As mentioned, HR 6542 seeks to eliminate the 7% per country cap on immigrant visas. It would also raise the cap on family-sponsored visas from 7% to 15%. HR 6542 is similar to the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, passed in the Senate, and the more recent EAGLE Act, which is still under consideration.
HR 6542 would create a transition period that would phase out the cap. This phasing system is similar to the EAGLE Act, which established a process to improve the wait time for those with the longest timelines in the backlog. Like the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, its transition period would extend over nine years. This timeframe would ensure it does not exclude countries from receiving an immigrant visa. The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act also inspired the decision for HB 6542 to raise the visa cap from 7 to 15%.
A Word from Its Sponsors
According to HR 6542’s sponsors, eliminating the 7% per-country limit would significantly benefit employers. It would allow employers to prioritize merit over birthplace when recruiting and hiring foreign national workers. Furthermore, the bill aims to reduce the backlog of individuals waiting to receive a green card.
Advocates of the legislation claim that HR 6542 would more than help the 1.2 million high-skilled workers waiting in the green card backlog. According to these advocates, many workers have wait times north of 134 years under the current law. Many affected individuals come from India and China, where a disproportionate number of employment-based visa holders originate.
Lawmakers have referred both HR 6542 and the EAGLE Act to a committee. However, it remains uncertain whether either will achieve passage. Successfully passing either would be good news for many sponsoring employers. It would also lead to shorter waiting times for many immigrant visa seekers.