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Permanent Residency: A New House Bill – A New Ray of Hope

Magazine, Immigration

Thousands of people waiting years in backlogs for an employment-based Green Card may finally be able to get legal permanent residency in the US after paying some additional fee. It would, however, only be possible if a new House bill – which aims at providing relief for many families, high-skilled immigrants, and employers – became law.

Even though the bill does not contain permanent structural changes to the legal immigration system, it is likely to allow more immigrants to get permanent residence than the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. 

On Monday [September 10, 2021], the House Judiciary Committee voted 25-19 along party lines to advance the legislative proposals under the budget reconciliation instructions. 

According to the committee print issued by the House Judiciary Committee, provision of this bill allows an applicant for employment-based immigration with a “priority date that is more than 2 years before” to adjust to permanent residence by paying a “supplemental fee of $5,000.” 

For the immigrant investors who have applied for the EB-5 category, the supplemental fee is $50,000. Similarly, the fee for a family-based immigrant sponsored by a US citizen and with a “priority date that is more than 2 years before”, is $2,500. 

Moreover, such applicants, whose priority date is not within two years but are required to be present in the country, will have to pay a supplement fee of $1,500. This provision of legal permanent residency in the US will expire in 2031.

Nonetheless, the House bill neither provides for permanent amendments to immigration structure nor eliminates the caps on permanent residency or increasing H-1B visa annual quotas.

This week brought a few quite surprising developments for immigrants, refugees, and dreamers including the family reunification program. This House bill is yet another good news for them, as it allows Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries, illegal immigrants, dreamers, and those who came to the US as children, farmworkers, and other essential workers to apply for permanent residency. 

Immigration policy analysts take this bill as a ray of hope for undocumented immigrants within the US and legal immigrants abroad. To them, this bill will help many legal immigrants outside the US indirectly, and help integrate the existing immigrants currently living in the US. 

One such analyst, David J Bier tweeted, “Employment-based applicants can adjust if they have waited 2 years from their priority date… this is almost like abolishing the EB caps for adjustment applicants who can pay $5K. Awesome! For EB5, it’s a $50K fee. Even those who can’t afford the fees or who are abroad would benefit from freeing up this cap space for others. It’s unfair that the bill maintains the country caps as is, so Indians and Chinese will be the only EB applicants required to pay the $5K/50K.” 

Although the bill is considered to be an excellent step for temporarily solving the green cards problem, it cannot clear the backlog of employment-based residency as the category will exceed 2 million people by 2030. However, the bill for sure will improve the lives of many individuals and families and increase the competitiveness of American companies and universities.

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