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 authorisation 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 penalise employers who fail to employ an H–1B worker for more than three months during the individual's first year of work authorisation.
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 programme.
"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 programme 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.