H.R. 3012: Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2011

H.R. 3012

Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2011

Date
November 29, 2011 (112th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, November 29, 2011, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 3012, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2011, under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority for passage.  H.R. 3012 was introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) on September 22, 2011, and was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.  The committee held a mark-up session on October 27, 2011, and ordered the bill reported by voice vote.

Bill Summary

H.R. 3012 would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate the per-country numerical limitation for employment-based immigrants, to increase the per-country numerical limitation for family-sponsored immigrants from seven percent to 15 percent. 

The bill would also amend the Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992 to eliminate the provision requiring the reduction of annual Chinese (PRC) immigrant visas to offset status adjustments under such Act.

Background

According to House Judiciary Committee staff, the Immigration and Nationality Act generally provides that the total number of family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant visas made available to natives of any single foreign country in a year cannot exceed seven percent of the total number of such visas made available in that year.   Because of annual caps on employment-based immigrant visas, the population size of certain countries and the large number of natives of those countries for whom employers have petitioned for employment-based immigrant visas, the time it takes for visas to be become available to natives of those countries may be much longer than it takes for natives of other countries: 

•           For instance, in the employment-based second preference category (members of the professions holding advanced degrees and aliens of exceptional ability), immigrant visas are now immediately available to applicants from most countries.  However, for natives of China and India, they are only available to aliens with priority dates of on or before November 1, 2007.

•           In the employment-based third preference category (skilled workers, professionals with bachelor’s degrees and unskilled workers), immigrant visas are now available to applicants from most countries with priority dates of on or before December 22, 2005, but for natives of China, they are only available to aliens with priority dates of on or before August 22, 2004, and for natives of India – July 22, 2002.

Employers have already proven to the Labor Department through the labor certification process that they need these workers, that qualified Americans are not available and that American workers will not be harmed (or the process has been waived in the national interest).  As the high-skilled foreign worker advocacy organization Immigration Voice states, “the country of origin does not affect the immigrants’ ability to contribute to the economy and the employer.  Employment-based immigration is driven by U.S. employers seeking to fill positions for which they cannot find qualified, willing and able Americans.”

H.R. 3012 would eliminate the employment-based immigrant visa per-country cap entirely by fiscal year 2015.  It also raises the family-sponsored immigrant visa per-country cap from seven percent to 15 percent.

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing H.R. 3012 would have no significant budgetary impact.  Enacting the bill could affect direct spending and revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures apply.  However, CBO estimates that any effects would be insignificant for each year. 

The bill would not affect the existing caps on the total number of family-sponsored and employment-based visas that can be issued in each year.  Those caps have been reached in recent years, and CBO expects that trend to continue; so they anticipate that the bill would not significantly affect the number of immigrants entering the United States.  Thus, they estimate that the net effects on adjudication fees collected as offsetting receipts and spent by the Department of Homeland Security would not be significant in any year.  CBO also estimates that enacting H.R. 3012 would have insignificant net effects on visa fees collected as revenues by the Department of State.