HR 1044 – Remove Country Based Green Card Limits

Written by Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta          Updated  12 Jun, 19

1044 Co-Sponsors Increase

Update June 11, 2019 – HR 1044 has achieved 300 co-sponsors, which makes it eligible for voting and debate on floor.

200 Democrats and 100 Republicans now support the removal of Green card country limits. This is good news as giving relief to legal workers especially from India and China is gaining momentum.

Earlier on June 4, Laura D Francis reports that Democrats are gearing up to pass H4-1044 after the success of American Dream Act for DACA dreamers. The chances of Green card country limit removal are better than DACA dreamer act as this bill has support of both Democrats and Republicans.

This will be the first time that the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act will receive a vote in the House since 2011, when it passed by a 389 to 15 margin as reported by ImmigrationVoice.

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

HR 1044 stands a better chance of passing in Congress as Lofgren is the chair and Buck, a ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, putting them in a position to push the bill ahead.

HR 1044, introduced in congress by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Congressman Ken Buck on Feb 7, 2019, was referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship on Mar 22, 2019. It is still under review.

Senator Grassley may Block 1044 again

The problem point however may still be Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who had blocked the same bill in 2011. He thought that H-1B program itself does NOT “better protect Americans who seek high-skill jobs”.

The 2011 bill, which passed the House with a vote of 389 to 15, aimed at abolishing country based Green card without increasing the total number of green cards.

This same bill has been lingering around since 2011. It is introduced almost every year but has never seen day of light. We are in 2019 now!

Sometimes, it just seems like businesses do not intentionally lobby as they are happy with modern day skilled bonded labor. They publicly show that they are in favor of the bill but in reality, they are not.

Chances of HR 1044 Passing and becoming Bill?

HR 1044 is currently at introduction stage. There is a long way to go before it is passed by house and then signed by President to make it a law.

If HR 1044 passes in current congress, the changes will take effect from September 30, 2019 (Fiscal Year 2020).

New Clauses in HR 1044

HR 392 did not pass the last congress voting due to the concerns raised by many that it will un-fairly incline the Green Card distribution in favor of two highly backlogged countries at this time i.e. India and China.

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

  1. If passed, the number of employment based green cards issued will be restricted in first 3 years as:
    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. Per country RESERVED Family Green card limit will be set to 25% of total GCs.
  3. Do no Harm” clause in HR 1044 – 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 later than someone else’s, your pending I-485 would remain pending until USCIS reaches your PD date.
  4. 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.

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.

Source: HR 1044 Full Text

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