New Bill To Eliminate Per Country Cap on Employment Visas

By Reuben S. Seguritan

March 15, 2017


The current immigration system for employment-based petitions has some flaws. First,  only a maximum of 7% of available employment-based visas can be issued to any one country regardless of how many applicants there are. This means that applicants from countries with smaller populations (and therefore a lower number of applicants) can get their employment-based visas quicker than an applicant from a more populous country like the Philippines. In 2014, the Philippines had the most number of employment-based applications.


Second, since only a small number of visas are granted in countries with more applicants, the remaining applicants create a backlog of high-skilled workers who wait for years for visas that might not even be issued. Third, US companies and employers are deprived of hiring the best high-skilled workers from countries with large populations. Clearly, something must be done in order to remedy the unfair immigration system for employment-based petitions.


Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah has proposed a bill which aims to address the per country percentage limit for employment-based petitions problem. The “Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017” or HR 392 proposes to make employment-based visas available to applicants on a first-come first-served basis regardless of whether they are from a populous country or not, and no matter how many other applicants there are from their country. For high-skilled workers from the Philippines, the passage of this bill into law could mean that their dreams of living and working in the United States would be fulfilled faster. This is the chance for Filipinos to go to a country with a lot of opportunities and jobs for high-skilled workers so they can better provide for their families.


This bill is also good news for US companies and employers because it would be easier for them to hire high-skilled workers from around the world, including workers from more populous countries like the Philippines. The talented, smart and creative high-skilled workers will propel US companies and employers to make more innovative products, services and techniques that will provide rapid growth to the economy and the job market.


This proposed bill is in furtherance of an earlier rule which took effect on January 17, 2017. On November 18, 2016, the USCIS released the final rule entitled “Retention of EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting High-Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers”. This rule aimed to simplify the process for employment-based visa programs for highly-skilled workers and imposed changes.


The rule provides that immigrant workers may keep their priority date when applying for adjustment of status. While priority dates cannot be transferred to another worker, it can be retained by an applicant for his subsequently filed EB-1, EB-2, EB-3 petition as long as the approval of the initial Form I-140 petition was not revoked for fraud, willful misrepresentation of a material fact, the invalidation or revocation of a labor certification, or material error. This will help certain workers accept promotions, change employers, or pursue other employment opportunities without fear of losing their place in line for immigrant visas.