Improvements to the Visa System Move Forward in Senate

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowaon Wednesday removed his “hold” on legislation that would adjust the distribution of employment and family-based immigrant visas. The “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act,” H.R. 3012, passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support last November, but Sen. Grassley’s hold kept the bill from moving forward in the Senate. The legislation addresses the badly clogged system of employment-based and family-based visas. Current law limits any one country to 7 percent of immigration visa quotas, causing enormous backlogs for legal immigrants from high-demand countries such asIndia andChina.

The following is a statement from Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum.

“Immigration solutions have been held hostage to congressional partisan gridlock for far too long. We welcome efforts to clear the way for legislation that is pro-families, pro-jobs and pro-business.

“This bipartisan legislation serves the needs of our economy. It provides common-sense fixes to our arbitrary and inadequate immigration system that currently confines highly qualified engineers and surgeons to painfully long and slow-moving visa lines.

“Likewise, it addresses the long-term separation of families required under the current immigration system, which belies American values of family unity. Many families endure devastating waits — some as long as 23 years — for family-based visas. Meanwhile,U.S.citizens and permanent residents live without the companionship and support of their closest loved ones.

“Our visa quotas for immigrant workers and immigrant families need more than redistribution; they must be adjusted to reflect current demand. While this legislation will alleviate certain visa backlogs, Congress must do more. An immigration system that truly serves all Americans includes visas for skilled workers of all kinds. From the skilled engineer to the skilled farmworker, our economy depends on immigrants and immigration.

“We hope that this modest, yet important, effort lays the groundwork for broader reforms of our immigration system.”

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