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Bill for increasing allotment of Green Cards introduced in US House

Bill for increasing allotment of Green Cards introduced in US House

Washington: A legislation backed by the Trump administration pushing for merit-based immigration and increasing the allotment of Green Cards by a hefty 45 per cent annually has been introduced in the House of Representatives, a move that could benefit Indian techies if signed into law.

The legislation ‘Securing America’s Future Act’ if passed by Congress and signed into law by US President Donald Trump will end the diversity visa programme and reduce the overall immigration levels from currently averaging 1.05 million to 260,000 a year.

It seeks to increase the allotment of Green Cards by an impressive 45 per cent from the current 120,000 to 175,000 per annum.

Indian-American technology professionals, who come to the US mainly on H-1B visas and opt for Green Cards or legal permanent residence status, are expected to be a major beneficiary of the ‘Securing America’s Futures Act’.

As per unofficial estimate, there are nearly 500,000 Indians waiting in the queue for Green Cards and have to seek annual extensions of their H-1B visas. Many wait for decades to get their Green Cards.

The H-1B programme offers temporary US visas that allow companies to hire highly skilled foreign professionals working in areas with shortages of qualified American workers.

The increase in the number of Green Cards per annum is likely to reduce their wait period drastically.

Having a Green Card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, allows a person to live and work permanently in the United States.

However, the elimination of chain migration is likely to badly affect those Indian Americans who are planning to bring their other family members to the US.

Securing America’s Future Act eliminates Green Card programmes for relatives, other than spouses and minor children.

A merit-based immigration system, the Trump administration feels would admit the best and the brightest around the world while making it harder for people to come to the country illegally.

Observers say this could benefit technically-qualified people from countries like India and China.

The legislation was introduced by House Homeland Security Committee Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee Chairwoman Martha McSally, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and House Judiciary Committee Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Raul Labrador.

“This bill offers common-sense solutions that will finally secure our borders, better support our frontline defenders, strengthen interior enforcement, and get tough on those who break our immigration laws. With this the president at the helm, we have the opportunity to provide the security and rule of law our founding fathers intended,” said McCaul.

At the same time, it creates a renewable temporary visa for parents of citizens to unite families at no cost to taxpayers.

The legislation creates a workable agricultural guest worker programme to grow the US economy, authors of the legislation said.

Labrador said the bill will modernise America’s immigration system for the next generation, enacting conservative reforms that will make the nation strong.

“This carefully crafted legislation, which is aligned with the White Houses immigration priorities, combines enforcement measures and increased border security to enhance public safety, ensure the door remains open to law-abiding immigrants, and restore the rule of law,” said Goodlatte.

In a late-night statement, the White House said the legislation “would accomplish the President’s core priorities for the American people”.

PTI