There has finally been some hopeful movement on increasing visas for skilled immigrants. The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, originally introduced in the House of Representatives on September 22, 2011, would increase the number of employment based visas. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a floor vote on November 29, 2011. But Senate procedures allow any member of the Senate to place a “hold” on legislation to delay consideration of a measure and Senator Grassley (R-IA) exercised this right. He based on his hold out of concern that U.S. workers would be harmed by increasing immigration flows. As Senator Grassley put it:
Mr. President, I rise to inform my colleagues that I am placing a hold on H.R. 3012, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act. This bill would eliminate the per-country numerical limitations for employment-based visas and increase the numerical cap for family-based immigrants. I have concerns about the impact of this bill on future immigration flows, and am concerned that it does nothing to better protect Americans at home who seek high-skilled jobs during this time of record high unemployment.
Senator Grassley has now released his hold, and unless another Senator moves to hold the legislation, it will be considered by the Senate in turn.
Please contact your Senators to support this bill. It allows businesses to bring highly-skilled immigrants to the U.S. in a reasonable time period. Right now, skilled immigrants from many nations must wait for 8-10 years or more to obtain Lawful Permanent Residence. This translates directly into higher legal costs for employers as they are required to maintain valid status for their employees while the residence process for key employees languishes in the backlog.