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AILA Doc. No. 19080632 | Dated January 29, 2020
AILA’s Board of Governors has voted to endorse the Resolving Extended Limbo for Immigrant Employees and Families (RELIEF) Act (S. 2603). The legislation proposes reforms to the immigration system that AILA has long been on the record of supporting, including exempting spouses and minor children of primary applicants from the immigrant visa quotas, increasing the number of green cards over the next five years, protecting minor children from aging out, and eliminating the per country caps. The House companion version of the RELIEF Act was introduced on December 5, 2019, by Representative Donna Shalala (D-FL). Given the much-needed improvement the legislation would bring to our immigration laws and the unconscionable visa backlog, AILA expresses its continued support for those principles.
The RELIEF Act is one of several pieces of immigration-related legislation being considered by Congress, including provisions to eliminate the per country caps. AILA recognizes the impact of the per-country quotas on nationals of affected countries and supports elimination of per-country caps in combination with visa backlog reduction efforts. However, we recognize the very real practical consequences on both sides of the debate when elimination of per country caps is not paired with backlog reduction provisions. For this reason, AILA maintains a neutral position in regards to the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 (H.R. 1044/S. 386). AILA has created this dedicated issue page to keep members informed about the status of these legislative proposals, and we will continue to update the page with new information, research, and analysis to help members make informed decisions regarding the legislation.
On February 7, 2019, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 was introduced in the House and Senate (H.R. 1044 / S. 386). If enacted, this bill would eliminate the per-country numerical limitation for all employment-based immigrants, and increase the per-country limitation for all family-sponsored immigrants from seven percent to 15 percent. One significant feature of this bill that distinguishes it from prior versions of this legislation is a "do no harm" provision. This provision states that no one who is the beneficiary of an employment-based immigrant visa petition approved before the bill's enactment shall receive a visa later than if the bill had never been enacted. Notably, the "do no harm" provision only applies to employment-based immigrants and does not apply to family-sponsored immigrants.
Given the recent passage of H.R. 1044, Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, on July 10, 2019, AILA has curated the following webpage where AILA members can quickly and easily view the House and Senate bills, AILA resources on this legislation, related bills, and other relevant resources. Given the divergent views of our members regarding this legislation, AILA has not taken a position on the bill. However, as we recognize the significant impact this legislation would have on our members' practices if enacted, AILA is committed to providing relevant resources on this legislation on the following webpage.
AILA is not aware of a comprehensive, independent, and publicly available analysis regarding how the House and Senate versions of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 would impact both the current employment-based and family-sponsored immigrant visa queues as well as future immigration flows. There are, however, a handful of piecemeal analysis that have been conducted on the impacts of per-country legislation, which are provided below. Note that two of these resources, specifically the Congressional Research Service reports, were published before the introduction of H.R. 1044 and S. 386 and therefore do not take into consideration the impact of the "do no harm" provision on employment-based immigrants.
AILA Insight is an informative digest with articles written by AILA members. Articles are shared as they are submitted and are compiled and distributed to AILA members on a quarterly basis. The speaker's/author's views do not necessarily represent the views of AILA.
The following articles are a sampling of news coverage regarding the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019. This list of articles is not exhaustive. The viewpoints expressed in these articles do not necessarily represent the views of AILA.
Senators Lee (R-UT) and Durbin (D-IL) appear to have reached an agreement to overcome Senator Durbin's objections to S. 386. The amended language of S. 386 contains all provisions in prior versions of S. 386, including the elimination of per country numerical limitations, increase of the per-country limitation for family-sponsored immigration, a do no harm provision for approved immigrant visa petitions, the three year 15/10/10 transition period, an additional 4,400 visas for the shortage occupations for 6 years, and revisions to the H-1B program.
In addition, the agreement between Senators Lee and Durbin would:
For more information, please see this one page summary.
AILA will continue to provide updates regarding any additional action on this amendment.
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) attempted a unanimous consent vote on S. 386, as amended. The unanimous consent vote failed after Senator Durbin (D-IL) objected.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Resolving Extended Limbo for Immigrant Employees and Families (RELIEF) Act. If enacted the RELIEF act would:
See the RELIEF Act bill summary for more information.
AILA will continue to provide updates as they become available.
Update from September 26, 2019, 12:00 pm (ET)
It appears that the unanimous consent request for this bill has been postponed.
Update from September 25, 2019
Today, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and David Perdue (R-GA) reached a deal to provide a set aside of 7,200 visas annually for foreign nurses and their dependents for eight years in the EB-3 visa category. The amended language specifies that no more than 2,800 of the 7,200 visas can go to dependents. The remainder of the visas must go to foreign nurses. Senator Lee is expected to seek a live unanimous consent vote on the bill on Thursday, September 26, 2019.
Update from September 19, 2019, 3:00 pm (ET)
The unanimous consent vote on the substitute amendment to S. 386, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, did not pass due to an objection by Senator David Perdue (R-GA). Senator Lee stated at the conclusion of the vote that he anticipates working with the Senator from Georgia to resolve their differences. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.
Update from September 18, 2019
Unanimous Consent Vote on Senate Substitute Amendment to H.R. 1044, Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, Expected on September 19, 2019
On September 18, 2019, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) proposed a substitute amendment to S. 386, Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, which amended the version passed by the House on July 10, 2019 (H.R. 1044). Senator Lee will likely seek a unanimous consent vote on the floor of the Senate tomorrow, September 19, 2019.
The substitute amendment uses the House version of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 (H.R. 1044) as the basis of its amendment, with a few key changes:
If the vote on the Senate Amendment is successful tomorrow, H.R 1044, as amended, would return to the House for consideration. AILA’s understanding is that the Senate passed version of H.R. 1044 would be placed on the House suspension calendar for consideration and final passage.
However, if the vote fails, the sponsors of H.R. 1044 in the House will seek a “must pass” vehicle in which to include the provision.
Cite as AILA Doc. No. 19080632.