Bipartisan Legislation to Eliminate Per-Country Immigration Caps Would Help Strengthen U.S. Semiconductor Workforce

Friday, Feb 08, 2019, 12:38pm

by Maryam Khan Cope, Director, Government Affairs


Bipartisan legislation introduced yesterday in the House and Senate would help level the high-skilled immigration playing field, relieve green card backlogs, and provide U.S. semiconductor companies with greater access to the top innovators from around the world.

The Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act (H.R. 1044 and S. 386), introduced by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Ken Buck (R-Colo.) in the House and Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) in the Senate, would eliminate the per-country limit on employment-based immigration visas for permanently employed foreign professionals already working in the United States. This would create a “first come, first served” visa system for high-skilled immigrants who are already living, working, and paying taxes in the United States, rather than the current, country-based system that unfairly pushes certain workers to the back of the line based solely on their country of birth.

SIA supports this legislation and urges swift congressional consideration and passage.

For years, SIA has advocated for reforming our high-skilled immigration system so the best and brightest minds from around the world can stay in the U.S., create jobs, spur innovation and drive economic growth. Many of America’s most innovative companies – including several SIA members – were founded and led by immigrants.

The Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act marks a small-but-important step toward fixing our broken high-skilled immigration system. Under the current system, countries are limited to no more than 7 percent of available green cards. This means that India and China, which account for more than 40 percent of the world’s population, are allowed the same number of visas as Greenland, a country that accounts for 0.001 percent of the world’s population. The legislation would create a fairer system by granting permanent residence to immigrant workers based on their qualifications, not their country of birth.

A prior version of the bill passed the House during the 112th Congress with strong, bipartisan support (389-15). During the last Congress, the legislation received the bipartisan support of 329 cosponsors in the House.

SIA looks forward to working with lawmakers to approve this and other legislation to reform America’s high-skilled immigration system. Doing so will boost U.S. competitiveness, innovation, and economic growth.