Update Feb 18, 2021: Biden’s immigration bill targets the sky and has a 1% chance of passing in its current form.
The primary focus of the bill is on family-based immigration, undocumented, asylum, refugee, DACA kids, and family-based immigration heavily as they are considered the democrat’ future vote bank.
There are some new and good things that can prove beneficial for employment based workers if passed:
#1 No wait after 10 years of i140 approval
This is something good and will prove a wild card if you have spent 10 years waiting after your i140 approval. Your priority date will be considered irrespective of the current visa bulletin.
- It is not clear if the i140 date will be counted from the first i140 approval or the most recent one.
- Practically speaking, the first i140 date should be considered even if you have filed EB2 to EB3 downgrades.
#2 Increase EB Green Card Limit from 140k to 170k
This will most probably be a big issue with republicans as it aims to increase the number of green cards. As they say, this is a kind of negative factor in the path to eternity.
#3 ReCapture lost Green Card
There are about 220k lost green card since 1992. The bill aims to recapture them. It it becomes reality, the employment based H1B green card queues will get some relief but will continue to build for Indians.
#4 Count H-1B dependents in Yearly Green card numbers
We could not find any text that points to a change of counting strategy. This could have helped double the yearly quota of Green card given as this provision has been made for family-based immigrants.
#5 Remove country of birth green card limits
This will be same as was targeted by S386 and HR 1044 earlier.
#6 H4 Age Out Protection
Children of H1B workers will not age out at 21 \.
All these ideas have been floated earlier but never reached any conclusion in congress since the bill aims to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.
The intent is good and can help reduce the current backlog of about 500k green cards for Indian and Chinese communities but it will face challenges convincing everyone.
David Bier has beautifully summarized the Biden’s bill on Twitter:
This article will discuss:
Chances of Passing?
Looking at the past S386 record which saw tons of amendments and could not become law even after passing House and Senate, the chances of this comprehensive immigration reform are less than 1% at this time.
There is no timeline and it can take years.
As they say, there are many slips between the cup and the lips, we still have a long way to go to see the light of the day without country-based discrimination. The bill will need to be passed by both House and Senate and then signed by President Biden.
Most H4 kids will age out if their parents cannot get a green card before they turn 21.
Indian GC Priority Date Movement
The 150 year US green card wait times for tax-paying skilled immigrants from India and China will be reduced to 6 years if the bill becomes law.
As per my estimation,
- The Indian green card EB1, EB2, and EB3 dates should get current up-to Feb 2016 immediately if the bill passes.
- The rest of the PD dates after Feb 2016 will get current in the subsequent 6 years.
Green Card in 5 Years for Undocumented
Biden’s plan is to provide a Green card in 5 years and then citizenship in 3 years to undocumented immigrants while legal Indian workers wait 15+ years on average even after recapturing lost green cards.
This probably means that ‘jumping the border‘ will get Green card preference over entering the US legally.
It would be interesting to see if legal workers will try to become illegal if the law gives preference to undocumented for green card issuance!
The only conditions that the Biden administration is putting up for the undocumented population to get a green card are:
- Physically present in the US on Jan 1, 2021.
- Paid IRS income taxes
Do skilled workers feel cheated here? Aren’t you paying taxes and abiding by all laws? Then, why is this discrimination?
Will Country of Birth Limits Be Removed?
The high skilled worker community from India and China is hoping that Democrats would try and pass the reform bill in 2021.
The main question to ask yourself: Which party considers you their future vote bank?
We still do not think that Democrats or for that matter Kamala Harris believes that high skilled legal workers are their future votes.
The ‘path to citizenship’ for 11M undocumented people in the USA is the biggest hurdle in getting bipartisan support. The same kind of bill was introduced in earlier congress and was never passed as it asked for too many changes to the immigration law.
Should I Move to Canada?
The chances of getting a US green card for legal H1B workers from India are still a distant dream and you should have a backup plan until the comprehensive reform bill passes both house and Senate. There is no timeline for this and can take years.
People who took the decision to move to Canada, Australia, or the UK have taken the right decision. Canada and Australia already have a merit-based system in place and the UK started its own in Jan 2021.
The USA does not seem to care about legal skilled workers’ future. Our suggestions:
- If your non-US citizen kid is 15 years today, it is better to start planning to move to one of the above-mentioned countries.
- If you are below 39 years of age, file for Canada, Australia, or UK Permanent residency immediately as you will find it difficult to get an invite if you don’t.
- If you are above 40 years today and do not have any other backup, you have probably missed the bus and have no other option than to keep waiting in the USA green card queue.
- If your child is 17+ years today, send them to Canada for studies and not the US. They can get Canadian residency easily than lingering in the USA F1 and then H1B line like you.
CIS analysis report
Earlier in March 2020, CIS published the S386 analysis report by the Congressional Research Service which claims that S386 will not stop the growth of backlogs in the future.
This report describes:
- The 10-year impact of eliminating the 7% per country ceiling on the first three employment-based immigration categories: EB1, EB2, and EB3.
- S386 has the potential of eliminating the Indian & Chinese EB1, EB2, and EB3 backlog in 3, 17, and 7 years respectively if it is implemented in 2020.
- The S386 may just help reduce the Green card wait times for Indian and Chinese nationals initially but it would create a backlog for other countries.
If there is no removal of the country of birth GC limits, the CATO institute projects that this employment-based backlog will double by FY 2030 to 2 million as compared to the current 1 million.
Immigration Reform Passing Process
- Pass Senate
- Pass House
- President Signature: The final step after both Senate and House approval is President’s sign.