New Immigration Bill Would Improve Visa Options for Skilled Workers

Republican Congressmen Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Lamar Smith of Texas introduced a legal immigration bill in September that would make it easier for skilled workers from some countries to get visas to stay in the United States and work.

Reform proponents have said American policy does not leave enough room for scientists and engineers from places like India and China to remain in the United States after school and help bolster this country’s technology sector.

The new bill, H.R. 3012, would eliminate the country-by-country limits on the 140,000 visas given to skilled workers annually. As the law is written now, each country is limited to only seven percent of the total, but some countries like India have far more applicants as a percentage.

In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in September, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the current laws are hurting the country.

“Right now, Iceland gets the same quota as India,” he told the Immigration and American Competitive Conference in Washington, D.C. “It just makes no sense. I have nothing against Iceland, but just think about where the next engineers and the entrepreneurs are going to come from.”

Chaffetz said the bill will help to encourage skilled workers to stay in the United States after school and contribute to the economy.

“Per country limits make no sense in the context of employment-based visas,” Chaffetz said in a press release. “By removing per country limits, American companies will be able to access the best talent.”

The bill, called the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, would not adjust the total number of available visas. The bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.

Smith and Chaffetz’s bill reflects a push by business leaders and politicians to separate the need to reform the nation’s legal immigration policy from the politically charged debate over illegal immigration policy.

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in July, NASDAQ CEO Robert Greifeld asked the committee to let the legal immigration reform discussion happen on its own.

“Americans are losing jobs and opportunity while we let one issue drag down the other,” he said.

As legislators inch closer to reforming American immigration laws with an eye toward economic recovery, graduate students are acutely aware of the bureaucratic hassles before them if they choose to stay in the United States after graduation.

Houston immigration attorney Annie Banerjee works with clients who want to stay in the United States and work. The Law Offices of Annie Banerjee has more than 10 years of experience helping graduate students and their families attain work visas. Before selecting an immigration lawyer in Houston Texas, contact the Law Offices of Annie Banerjee by visiting their information-filled website at