The bill, H.R. 3012 Fairness for High Skilled Immigrant Workers is scheduled to be taken up by whole House of Representatives on November 29, 2011. Because of its bipartisan support, the bill - eliminating the quota for Employment-based visas (EBs) and would increase visa numbers for Family-based petitions - is expected to pass.

It is also the best news so far for Nurses, PTs and other professionals with pending EB3 visa petitions and applicatiions.

This week, the bill moved form the Subcommittee to the Full House and is set for debate on the Congress floor.  That by itself is a minor miracle brought about by bipartisan apostles of focused immigration reform.  Here is how the bill now looks like.  Annotations are made for the reader to understand how the bill has progressed and metamorphosed.  

Sec. 2 here is Sec. 2 of the bill, HR 3012, titled Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act.  And a companion bill has also been introduced and tackled in the US Senate (S.1857, the same title).

SEC. 2. NUMERICAL LIMITATION TO ANY SINGLE FOREIGN STATE.

(a) In General- Section 202(a)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1152(a)(2)) is amended--

(1) in the paragraph heading, by striking `AND EMPLOYMENT-BASED';

(2) by striking `(3), (4), and (5),' and inserting `(3) and (4),';

(3) by striking `subsections (a) and (b) of section 203' and inserting `section 203(a)';

(4) by striking `7' and inserting `15'; and

(5) by striking `such subsections' and inserting `such section'.

(b) Conforming Amendments- Section 202 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1152) is amended--

(1) in subsection (a)(3), by striking `both subsections (a) and (b) of section 203' and inserting `section 203(a)';

(2) by striking subsection (a)(5); and

(3) by amending subsection (e) to read as follows:

`(e) Special Rules for Countries at Ceiling- If it is determined that the total number of immigrant visas made available under section 203(a) to natives of any single foreign state or dependent area will exceed the numerical limitation specified in subsection (a)(2) in any fiscal year, in determining the allotment of immigrant visa numbers to natives under section 203(a), visa numbers with respect to natives of that state or area shall be allocated (to the extent practicable and otherwise consistent with this section and section 203) in a manner so that, except as provided in subsection (a)(4), the proportion of the visa numbers made available under each of paragraphs (1) through (4) of section 203(a) is equal to the ratio of the total number of visas made available under the respective paragraph to the total number of visas made available under section 203(a).'.

(c) Country-specific Offset- Section 2 of the Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992 (8 U.S.C. 1255 note) is amended--

(1) in subsection (a), by striking `subsection (e))' and inserting `subsection (d))'; and

(2) by striking subsection (d) and redesignating subsection (e) as subsection (d).

(d) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall take effect as if enacted on September 30, 2011, and shall apply to fiscal years beginning with fiscal year 2012.

(e) Transition Rules for Employment-based Immigrants-

(1) IN GENERAL- Subject to the succeeding paragraphs of this subsection and notwithstanding title II of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1151 et seq.), the following rules shall apply:

(A) For fiscal year 2012, 15 percent of the immigrant visas made available under each of paragraphs (2) and (3) of section 203(b) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1153(b)) shall be allotted to immigrants who are natives of a foreign state or dependent area that was not one of the two states with the largest aggregate numbers of natives obtaining immigrant visas during fiscal year 2010 under such paragraphs (largest number of natives obtaining lawful permanent resident status during fiscal year 2012 under such section 203(b).)

EB2 and 3 applicants from countries with the largest number of applicants shall lose visa numbers since 15% of the allocation for the EB2 and EB3 shall be allotted to countries with low EB2 and EB3 numbers.  In the original version 15% of the total EB allocation will be given to overseas applicants from countries (outside the US) with small number of EB2 and EB3 applicants.  The original referred to those applicants for lawful permanent resident status.  The year to start the new reallocation was moved two (2) years: from 2012 in the original to 2010 in the version sent to the House floor.

(B) For fiscal year 2013, 10 percent of the total number of immigrant visas made available under) each of such paragraphs such section 293(b) shall be allotted to immigrants who are natives of a foreign state or dependent area that was not one of the two states with the largest aggregate numbers of natives obtaining immigrant visas lawful permanent resident status during fiscal year 2011 under such paragraphs. section 203(b).

(C) For fiscal year 2014, 10 percent of the immigrant visas made available under each of such paragraphs (under such section 203(b)) shall be allotted to immigrants who are natives of a foreign state or dependent area that was not one of the two states with the largest aggregate numbers of natives obtaining immigrant visas (obtaining lawful permanent resident status) during fiscal year 2012 under such paragraphs. (such section 203(b).

The changes were made to reflect the fact that the visa allocation shall be for natives obtaining PERMANENT RESIDENT STATUS (applicants inside the United States) as opposed to natives obtaining immigrant visas, implying applicants who are OUTSIDE the U.S.  Therefore, two years’ worth of unused EB visas could be used earlier, thereby further reducing the backlog.  Preference therefore is for those already in the US.

(2) PER-COUNTRY LEVELS-

(A) RESERVED VISAS- With respect to the visas reserved under each of subparagraphs (A) through (C) of paragraph (1), the number of such visas made available to natives of any single foreign state or dependent area in the appropriate fiscal year may not exceed 25 percent (in the case of a single foreign state) or 2 percent (in the case of a dependent area) of the total number of such visas.

(B) UNRESERVED VISAS- With respect to the immigrant visas made available under each of paragraphs (2) and (3) of section 203(b) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1153(b)) and not reserved under paragraph (1), for each of fiscal years 2012, 2013, and 2014, not more than 85 percent shall be allotted to immigrants who are natives of any single foreign state.(not more than the numbers reserved of such visas calculated under clause (ii) shall be allotted to immigrants who are natives of any single foreign state.)

(3) SPECIAL RULE TO PREVENT UNUSED VISAS- If, with respect to fiscal year 2012, 2013, or 2014, the operation of paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection would prevent the total number of immigrant visas made available under paragraph (2) or (3) of section 203(b) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1153(b)) from being issued, such visas may be issued during the remainder of such fiscal year without regard to paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection.

The section above was added to live up to the legislative intent to increase or not subject to quota EB visa numbers. Should EB1 (Paragraph 1 of Section 203(b) Preference allocation for employment-based immigrants) and EB2 (Paragraph 2) visa allocation are used up, visas under EB 3 shall still be issued. In effect this nullifies the quota for the EB categories as intended when bill was introduced.

(4) RULES FOR CHARGEABILITY- Section 202(b) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1152(b)) shall apply in determining the foreign state to which an alien is chargeable for purposes of this subsection. (This section was renumbered to 4; was number 3 in the original bill as introduced.)

If you have a pending EB3 application, you can send your complete and updated resume to immigrants@visacenter.org for a free assessment so that you can plan your moves until the bill is passed.

Legend:

Red text denotes provisions when bill was introduced and passed by Subcommittee and Full House committee and is currently on the House floor.

Black text denotes proposals in the bill as introduced.

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