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Employment-based immigration gets bipartisan boost in Washington

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Employment-based immigration may get a little easier as the result of proposed new legislation which coasted through the Republican controlled House of Representatives in Washington in recent weeks. The bill, which still must pass the Senate, is called the "Fairness for High-Skilled Immigration Act." It relaxes current rules regarding employment-based immigration, making it easier for highly educated people from larger countries to obtain visas. Current rules limit each country to no more than 7 percent of the 140,000 H1-B visas granted every year. Without increasing the overall number of visas, the new law would ostensibly cut the waiting time for a visa for countries like China and India from about 70 years to 10.

While the bill is expected to pass the Senate in a rare show of bipartisan support, the initiative does little to address the raging immigration debate in Washington and across the country. Many see the system as completely broken, though there are sharply differing views on how to fix it.

Most of the Republican presidential candidates support constructing a 2,000 mile fence along the Mexican border at a cost of some $30 billion, and hardliners suggest that all of the estimated 8 million undocumented immigrants be deported. However, the Obama administration continues to seek support for the DREAM ACT, which would gradually allow permanent residency to those graduating from U.S. high schools who came to the United States as minors.

What is clear is that the issues will not be resolved soon. While employment-based immigration visas appear to be headed in the direction of greater flexibility, some see it as a band aid on a raging wound. With the laws and regulations concerning immigration continually changing, those affected would do well to keep abreast of all developments and plan for the optimal time to achieve desired immigration objectives.

Source: The Economic Times, "Faster green cards: Can US fix its high-skilled immigration system?," Dec. 4, 2011

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