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Significant Immigration Legislation in November

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Significant Immigration Legislation in November

November 9, 2011

While U.S. Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Jason Chaffetz have introduced thoughtful pro-immigrant bills in the House recently, the political climate in light of the rapidly approaching presidential election could derail the chance for relief in 2012.

A bill introduced in October by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the Protecting American Families and Businesses Act of 2011 (H.R. 3119), has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement for consideration. The bill from Lofgren, a Silicon Valley Democrat, would eliminate per-country limits for employment-based visas (with a three-year phase-in), raise the per-country limit on the family-based side, expand "AC-21" protection to include L and F visa holders, and recapture unused employment- and family-based green cards to shorten green card backlogs, among other provisions. "Our nation gains nothing from keeping families separated and blocking companies from hiring the world's brightest innovators," Lofgren said when introducing the bill. It remains to be seen whether this immigrant-friendly bill gains traction in the House, but it could face serious roadblocks as the presidential election approaches.

In September, Rep. Jason Chaffetz introduced the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (H.R. 3012). Like Lofgren's, this bill would eliminate per-country limits for employment-based visas and increase per-country limits for family-based immigrants. The bill would greatly improve processing times for Indian and Chinese green card applicants if passed. It would need to attract more co-sponsors, be recommended for a vote on the House floor, be passed by the House, be passed by the Senate, and be signed into law by the president.

Earlier this year, in June, Lofgren introduced the Immigration Driving Entrepreneurship in America (IDEA) Act of 2011 (H.R. 2161) which, among other provisions, calls for a new path to green card status for highly skilled foreign nationals educated in the United States in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections in September.

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