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US Govt EAGLE Act of 2022

Context:

Recently, the White House supported the US Congress pass a legislation whose aim is to eliminate the per-country quota on issuing green cards. The House of Representatives will soon vote on the (Equal Access to Green Card for Legal Employment) EAGLE Act of 2022.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Green card
  2. What is H.R. 3648, or the EAGLE Act of 2022?
  3. How will the legislation benefit Indian-Americans?

About Green card

  • Officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, a green card, issued to immigrants, allows them to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis.
  • The card serves as evidence that the holder has been accorded the privilege of residing permanently.
Benefits:
  • It provides a pathway to citizenship, a green card holder can sponsor immediate family members for the same card.
  • It provides easy access to US’ social security system as also education assistance.
  • Travel to and from the country becomes much easier.
  • A card holder can choose to live anywhere in the US.
  • There is more freedom in terms of career opportunities as one can apply for a wide variety of jobs.
  • A card holder can also have some amount of engagement in the political process of the country.

What is H.R. 3648, or the EAGLE Act of 2022?

  • The goal of the Act is to allow US employers to “focus on hiring immigrants based on merit, not their birthplace, by eliminating the “per country” limitation on employment-based immigrant visas (green cards).”
  • To reduce the impact of this on less-populated countries and ensure that eligible immigrants from these countries are not excluded when the Act is implemented, the legislation plans to phase out the per-country caps over the course of nine years.
  • Another goal of the EAGLE Act 2022 is to improve the H-1B specialty occupation visa program.
  • This would be done by bolstering the recruitment requirements, strengthening protections for US workers and boosting transparency, among others.
  • H.R. 3648 also includes important provisions to allow individuals who have been waiting in the immigrant visa backlog for two years to file their green card applications.
  • Although the applications could not be approved until a visa becomes available, this would allow employment based immigrants to transition off of their temporary visas and provide them with additional flexibilities in changing employers or starting a business.

How will the legislation benefit Indian-Americans?

  • There are 140,000 employment‐based green cards available, and because of the per-country cap, the backlog has touched millions.
  • According to the CATO report of 2020, in the United States, 75 per cent of the employment‐based backlog was made up by skilled Indian workers.
  • Notably, if they all could remain in the line, the backlogged Indian workers faced a wait of nine decades before they could get a green card.
  • The 2020 report also notes that over “200,000 petitions filed for Indians could expire as a result of the workers dying of old age before they receive green cards.”
  • Apart from the law that imposes limits on the number of green cards for immigrants from any single birthplace, the reason for Indians enduring much longer waits is employers filing far more petitions for Indians than the limits allow.
  • However, given the current situation, even if the per-country cap is removed, it would still leave waits of more than a decade for every employer‐sponsored immigrant.
  • Thus the per‐country limits work at a disadvantage for Indians with more recent immigrants facing lifetime waits for green cards.

-Source: Indian Express


February 2023
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