Proposed New Law to Abolish Per-Country Quotas Passes House, But Stalls in Senate

Capitol Hill.jpgThe Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, H.R. 3012, passed the U.S. House of Representatives this week with almost unanimous approval with a 389 to 15 vote. The legislation would remove the per-country quotas on immigration work visas. The current quota system places a limit on the number of visas available to each country. For example, Iceland has a population of 320,000 and is allotted the same number of visas as China, which has a population of 1.3 billion people. The result is that foreign nationals of some countries can obtain U.S. permanent residency fairly quickly, yet foreign nationals from China and India face huge backlogs and must wait several years.

After the bill sailed through the House, it was stopped in the Senate by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa. Grassley put a hold on the bill, blocking the legislation from being debated on the floor. Grassley said he would lift his hold on H.R. 3012 if Senator Chuck Schumer will stop pursuing the Irish-visa proposal. Chuck Schumer, Democrat Senator from New York and chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wants to add another special visa category to the H.R. 3012 bill that would provide an immigration benefit for Irish Nationals.

Schumer says that he is not the only one holding up the bill. Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts also wants to tack on the Irish-visa proposal to H.R. 3012, but won’t say whether or not he will block H.R. 3012.

Several versions have of The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act H.R. 3012 have been introduced in recent months, but each has failed to pass. And with this latest version, those Senators who are blocking H.R. 3012 from the Senate floor say they actually do support it, but it seems they would rather hold the bill hostage until their own proposals get tacked on first.