US Senator moves merit-based amendments to immigration bill

US Senator moves merit based amendments to immigration billWASHINGTON: A top Republican lawmaker has moved amendments to a White House-backed immigration bill to improve existing high-skilled, merit-based immigration laws, a proposal that could benefit technology professionals from countries like India.

The amendments, moved by Senator Orrin Hatch, aim to eliminate annual per-country cap for employment-based green cards so that applicants from more populous countries like India and China are not unfairly discriminated against applicants from less populous countries.

“I have long said, high-skilled immigration is merit-based immigration,” Hatch said after moving the amendments to Senate Immigration Bill yesterday.

“It’s immigration targeted at the best, the brightest, and the most highly educated. The amendments, I filed today, are focused, commonsense reforms that will make a real difference for our economy,” he said.

The amendments would increase worker mobility for individuals on the path to a green card by enabling them to change jobs earlier in the process without losing their place in the green card line, he said in a statement.

Also, it codifies existing regulations regarding spousal work authorization and post-education practical training.

The amendments exempt holders of US master’s degrees or higher who are being sponsored for green cards from the annual numerical limitations on H 1B visas, the statement said.

It has provision to penalize employers who fail to employ an H 1B worker for more than three months during the individual’s first year of work authorization.

Also, it further updates 1998 law exempting H 1B dependent employers from certain recruitment and non-displacement requirements, it added.

In particular, the amendment raises from USD 60,000 to USD 100,000 the H 1B salary level at which the salary-based exemption takes effect, narrows education-based exemption to H 1B hires with a US PhD, and eliminates exemption for “super-dependent” employers altogether, he said.

“In particular, they will help streamline the process by which a worker with in-demand technical skills can obtain a green card and will cut back on some of the troubling abuses we have seen with the H-1B program.

“These are important reforms that can attract broad support, and I intend to pursue every opportunity to include them in the pending immigration bill,” the lawmaker said.

In his first State of the Union address, President Donald Trump had pushed for a merit-based immigration system that admits skilled people.

Trump proposed four pillars of immigration reform that include a pathway to citizenship for almost 1.8 million illegal immigrants – known as ‘Dreamers’ –
who were brought in the US by their parents at a young age, border security, ending the visa lottery program and limiting family-based migration.

The President who has been against visa lottery system believes that it does not attract the best and the brightest to the US.-PTI

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