Hours after his inauguration, Biden also sent an immigration bill to Congress that proposes opening a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants living in the US unlawfully. Biden’s measures are expected to bring cheers to 741,000 H1-B Visa holders, their spouses and families, besides 200,000 students.
The bill proposes to eliminate the per country cap for employment-based green cards, a move that would benefit hundreds and thousands of Indian IT professionals in the US, whose current wait period for legal permanent residency runs into several decades.
Called the US Citizenship Act of 2021, the legislation modernises the immigration system, according to a source. It prioritises keeping families together, grows the country’s economy, responsibly manages the border with smart investments, addresses the root causes of migration from Central America, and also ensures that the US remains a refuge for those fleeing persecution, according to informed sources.
The bill creates a roadmap to citizenship for a population that lives and works in the US. It provides an immediate pathway to green cards for individuals who meet certain criteria as they were dreamers or have been recipients of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The bill reforms the family-based immigration system by recapturing unused visas to clear the backlog, eliminating the lengthy waits, and increases their per country visa caps.
It also eliminates the bars and other provisions that have kept families apart.
Sources informed that the bill also clears employment-based immigration backlogs by reducing those backlogs altogether, eliminating the per country criteria. It makes it easier for graduates of US universities with advanced degrees, in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to stay in the US. It also improves access to green cards for workers from the low wage sectors.
The bill also includes the No Ban Act that prohibits discrimination based on religion and limits presidential authority to issue future bans.
Indian IT professionals, most of whom are highly skilled and come to the US mainly on the H-1B work visas, are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system, which imposes a 7% per country quota on allotment of the coveted green card or permanent legal residency, sources said.
Post the November election outcome, a document of the Biden transition had said he will reform the visa system that has kept so many Indian families in waiting for too long.
This bill is Biden’s vision to fix the immigration system once and for all. But it’s only the US Congress that can provide immigrants with a path to citizenship.