On December 2, 2020, the Senate passed The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act
(S. 386/H.R. 1044) which included xenophobic and exclusionary language targeting individuals of Chinese origin that was not part of the earlier version of this bill. It appears that Congress wants to try to pass this legislation as soon as possible by attaching it to must-pass government funding bills before the end of the year.
As currently drafted, Section 9 would ban many Chinese nationals from becoming U.S. lawful permanent residents and citizens, falsely equating their place of birth with the ideology of China’s leadership. This provision undermines the spirit and purpose of a bill that was originally intended to ensure that people are granted visas based on their skills and not their country of origin.
One of the primary goals of the bill is to remove the per country limitations that are currently in place for immigrant visas. These per country limitations account for the very lengthy wait times that individuals from certain countries experience when trying to become U.S. Permanent Residents. The per country limitations have mainly impacted those born in India, China, Mexico and the Philippines.
Removing the per country limitations would mean that the priority date backlogs for individuals born in these four countries would be significantly reduced or possibly even eliminated. On the other hand, it would likely mean that individuals born in other countries, who have traditionally not experienced immigrant visa backlogs, would likely be subject to backlogs. Basically, if passed into law, this bill would make the priority date backlog uniform for every applicant, regardless of country of birth. However, the additional language targeting individuals of Chinese origin is troubling and against the initial objective of the bill.