We have been hopeful for what President Biden may do for immigrants as the new President of the United States. Last week, an immigration reform bill entered Congress. If this bill is passed, it would be a great win for immigration in the United States and the EB-3 Unskilled (Other Workers) Visa program in particular.
Here are some highlights from the bill:
- Section 3101—Recapture of immigrant visas lost to bureaucratic delay. This section would recapture unused employment-based green card numbers from fiscal years 1992 to 2020 and would increase the number of green card immigrant visas issued per fiscal year from 140,000 to 170,000. This would mean visa retrogression wouldn't happen again for a very long time.
- Section 3102—Reclassification of spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents [LPRs] as immediate relatives. This section would reclassify spouses and minor children of LPRs—green card holders—as “immediate relatives,” meaning that immigrant visa numbers would be immediately available to complete the green card sponsorship process. This doubles the number of EB-3 available because spouses and children no longer count.
- Section 3104—Promoting family unity. This section would repeal the 3- and 10-year bars for noncitizens who depart the United States after accumulating 180 days or 1 year, respectively, of unlawful presence in the country. Many visa holders have unwittingly overstayed the duration of their admission to the United States only to learn that they could be subject to a bar to reentry to the United States if they depart the country. This provision would repeal this result. This would be open up a new market for those who were unauthorized.
- Section 3403—Eliminating per-country caps for employment-based immigrants. This provision would benefit individuals in some particular groups, such as Indian or Chinese nationals, who have been subject to lengthy wait times to receive green cards.
- Section 3404—Increased immigrant visas for other workers. This section would increase the number of immigrant visas in the employment-based third preference category of “other workers” from 10,000 to 40,000.
- Section 3405—Flexible adjustments to employment-based immigrant visa program. This section would authorize the secretary of homeland security, in consultation with the secretary of labor, to increase the EB-3 unskilled numbers during times of high employment.
- Section 3410—Visa extensions for individuals pursuing green cards. This provision would provide for additional extensions of nonimmigrant visa status in one-year increments to persons in F-1, H-1B, L, and O visa status, if their immigrant visa petitions or labor certifications have been pending for more than one year. This will help us with clients waiting for their LC to be approved.