HR 1044 Passed in House to Remove Country Based Green Card Limits

HR 1044 is passed to remove green card country limits. Senate needs to approve to benefit Indian and Chinese H1B workers. Approved I-140 will get GC first.

Written by Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta          Updated  26 Sep, 19

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Update Sep 26, 2019: The Senate version of HR1044 did not get a UC vote on Sep 26 as Senator Mike Lee suspected that Illinois Sen has objections with the bill’s language.

Earlier, Senator David Perdue has agreed to co-sponsor HR 1044 after blocking it on Sep 19, 2019.

The modified version of HR1044 with some clauses from S386 and compromises with Rand Paul and David Perdue stands on hold again.

If it passes in Senate with modifications, the bill be sent back to House for approval once again.

Once approved again in House with modifications, the next step would be President signature to make it a law.

HR 1044 Submitted in Senate

HR1044 has been sent to Senate for approval after passing in House with majority. Senate has referred it to committee on Judiciary.

I will update here as soon as the bill is considered for voting in Senate with the expectation that we should see the action in 2-3 weeks. Stay tuned.

If HR 1044 passes in Senate and signed by President, the changes will take effect from September 30, 2019 (Fiscal Year 2020).

HR 1044 submitted in Senate
HR 1044 submitted in Senate

Green Card Country Limit removal bill was approved with 365 (Yes) and (65) NO on 10 July 2019.

This was the first time the bill has made it through house of Congress since 2011.

Next steps for HR1044

  1. Senate Approval (Not yet scheduled)
  2. President Approval (Not yet scheduled)

Please note that even if the bill passes house, it needs to be passed in Senate before it can be sent to president for making it a law.

At this time, the Senate has blocked the similar bill S386! They will block the HR1044 too. So, do not expect to see your Green card so early.

Indian EB2 Movement

If the bill indeed becomes a law, my estimation says that Indian priority date will get current up-to July 2016. I will share more details soon.

The EB1, EB2 and EB3 queues will start clearing pretty fast and then Indians can expect to get their Green cards within 1-2 years.

This is precisely the reason that other countries like Iran and professionals like Nurses are lobbying to block the country limits removal in Senate at this time. Rand Paul has specifically asked for an amendment to be added to S386 for Nurses as their waiting period is going to be easily 8-10 years after this law.

Fast Green Card for Indians, Chinese

To address the concerns raised by non-backlogged countries and protect their Green card availability, new provisions have been added to HR 1044.

#1 Restriction on Green Card for first 3 years

  1. Oct 2019 to Sep 2020 will have at-least 15% of Green Cards for non-Indian and non-Chinese people.
  2. Oct 2020 to Sep 2022 will have at-least 10% of Green Cards for non-Indian and non-Chinese people.
  3. Starting Oct 2022, there will be no country based limits for any country. Anyone with an employment based approved i140 will get preference on first filed first processed manner.

#2 Reserved Green Cards

Per country RESERVED Family Green card limit will be set to 25% of total GCs per year. These are usually given to countries that are dependent colonies of major countries. If you are from India or China, you do not need to worry about it.

#3 Protection for Approved i140 Waiting in Line

Anyone with an approved I-140 is guaranteed to receive Green card earlier than the person without approved I-140 at this time.

This means that if your GC priority date is 1 Jan 2015, then you will get US green card earlier than someone who has filed i140 after you and has priority date after 1 Jan 2015.

This clause is known as “Do no Harm” clause in HR 1044.

The Transition period (including the “Do no harm” provision) now applies to EB-5 Visas also.

These changes would address any concerns raised by American Hospital Association or American Iranian Council earlier in HR 392.

Recently, Trump has also announced his intention to get rid of country based Green card limits by introducing merit based immigration.

Will HR 1044 pass in Senate?

The chances of HR 1044 passing in senate are low at this time as Senator Rand Paul has blocked similar Green card country limit removal.

Will HR 1044 benefit Indians & Chinese?

HR 1044 will definitely benefit the Indian and Chinese high skilled H1B workers who have been waiting for their US green cards for decades.

How fast will Indian EB2 move with country limit removal?

As per our estimates, the the Indian EB1, EB2 and EB3 queue will get current for up-to July 2015 to July 2016 as soon as HR 1044 becomes a law. Most of the Green cards will be taken up by Indian and Chinese in first 5 years.

What is HR 1044 bill

HR 1044 aims to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate the per-country numerical limitation for employment-based workers like H1B, L visa.

HR 1044 is the new and modified version of HR 392.

This Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 wants to increase the per-country numerical limitation for family-sponsored immigrants.

A bill passes through these steps before it can become law and make some significant contribution to people’s lives:

  1. Introduced
  2. Passed House
  3. Passed Senate
  4. To President
  5. Became Law

Remove Per-Country Limits for Employment-based Green Cards

HR 1044 wants to issue US green Cards on a first-come, first-serve basis instead of Country of Birth.

At this time, each country has a numerical limit of 7% (9,800 of the 140,000 annual green cards limit) green cards that can be issued which pushes countries like India and China at huge backlog with waiting period of more than 20 years.

This will also help avoid the problem of H1B worker kids ‘Ageing out‘ on turning 21, which effectively makes them start their own Green Card process.

Green Card Backlog Survey

EB2 is the most preferred category for Indian H1B workers to file Green Card.

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Source: HR 1044 Full Text


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   11 Useful Questions & Answers from comments



  1. Rag
    Rag 6 Aug, 19 at 1:39 pm

    Anil, Is this bill dead? No action from Senate and also Senate went to recess and will return after one month.


  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous 6 Aug, 19 at 11:58 am

    Its been a month since the bill is passed House, when would Senate act on this?


  3. Sagar P
    Sagar P 1 Aug, 19 at 11:39 pm

    Can you explain how the priority date in EB2 will get current to July 2016 if the bill passes?
    Last I checked, there are around 460,000 people waiting in EB2. So even if all 28% of EB2 quota (40,040 number of GCs) go to them in the queue, it will take 11 years for it to clear.


  4. Parag
    Parag 24 Jul, 19 at 6:38 pm

    Do you know what happens for priority date portability for EB2 if this bill passes?

    That is if someone has a prior approved I-140 but has left that employer, once the original I140 date is recaptured (after labor petition + new I-140), will they then be granted a GC based on old I140 date?


    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 24 Jul, 19 at 9:09 pm

      That’s what the date porting means and if ported, the date is honored.

      If that was not the case, thousands of people would be left behind who have changed jobs and ported their PD dates.


      • Parag
        Parag 25 Jul, 19 at 9:44 am

        Thanks for the response, I understand that that if the date is already ported at time of passing this bill but what if you haven’t ported it yet.

        So to be more specific, I am currently waiting for labor certification, supposed bill passes (hopefully) in September 2019, but I am not able to port my date until November of 2019. Will I benefit from this bill, since the wording seems to mention that it will benefit “aliens with approved petitions”. A petition is not approved until I-140 is approved (from what I understand), so will I still benefit if I-140 is approved after the bill passes (and I am able to recapture my old PD of 2014).


        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 25 Jul, 19 at 10:40 am

          You should be able to get the benefit even if the date has not been ported yet.


  5. Rag Ramini
    Rag Ramini 23 Jul, 19 at 8:46 am

    Looks like GRASSLEY is not happy with EB5 language. So shall we assume that the bill is doomed in 116 th congress.


    • Senthur
      Senthur 24 Jul, 19 at 9:11 am

      Any link reference?


  6. Kapil Sharma
    Kapil Sharma 22 Jul, 19 at 3:06 pm

    Hi @spot_anil_gupta:disqus : whats happening on senate over it, just curious!


    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 22 Jul, 19 at 5:18 pm

      Nothing is happening right now. I will share as soon as i hear something.