July 11, 2012
Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Republican Chuck Grassley on Wednesday removed a huge barrier to legislation that could speed the doddering visa system for highly skilled immigration. He removed his “hold” on legislation that would ease the immense backlogs for applicants from India and China, home to many superskilled immigrants. President Obama has endorsed the bill, and ironically, so has the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives, which passed the bill last year.
The bill, termed the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, would remove per-country quotas on permanent work visas. Under the current system, Iceland–a small country not known for producing highly skilled workers bound for the U.S.–gets allotted the same number of visas as China.
The legislation would not add to the overall number of available green cards, but it would speed processing for skilled immigrants who now face waits of up to 70 years on an endlessly renewing loop of temporary work visas. While on temporary visas, they can’t change jobs or vote, and their spouses can’t work.