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Public Statements

Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Utah for yielding me time, and I also want to thank him for his sponsorship of this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, our immigration system should be designed to benefit Americans and our economy. And this bill introduced by Congressman Chaffetz does just that, and I'm happy to be a cosponsor.

The Immigration and Nationality Act generally provides that the total number of family-sponsored and employment-based green cards available to natives of any one country cannot exceed 7 percent of the total number of green cards available each year. Because of these annual numerical caps on green cards and the fact that some countries have more of the skilled workers that American employers want, natives of these countries must often wait years longer for green cards than natives of other countries.

For foreign professionals with advanced degrees and aliens of exceptional ability, green cards are now immediately available to approved applicants from most countries. However, because employers seek so many workers from India and China, the per-country caps result in green cards only being available to these individuals who first applied before November 2007, 4 years ago.

For foreign professionals with bachelor's degrees and skilled workers, green cards are now available to applicants from most countries who first applied on or before December 2005. However, for the same reason, because employers seek so many workers from India and China, the per-country cap results in green cards only being available to those from China who first applied before August 2004 and for those from India before July 2002.

Similar per-country caps exist in the family-sponsored green card categories. That's why natives of most countries who are siblings of U.S. citizens will get green cards only if they first applied before June 2000, 11 years ago, and the siblings from the Philippines have had to wait since 1988.

H.R. 3012, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, eliminates the employment-based per-country cap entirely by fiscal year 2015. It also raises the family-sponsored per-country cap from 7 percent to 15 percent. This legislation makes sense. Why should American employers who seek green cards for skilled foreign workers have to wait longer just because the workers are from India or China? American business employers have already proved to
the U.S. Government that they need these workers, that qualified workers are not available, and that American workers will not be harmed.
It makes sense to repeal the employment-based per-country caps. So I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 3012. Again, I want to thank the gentleman from Utah for sponsoring this legislation.

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