On June 2, 2021, Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Rep. John Curtis introduced H.R. 3648, The Equal Access to Green cards for Legal Employment (EAGLE) Act of 2021, to the House of Representatives. One of the primary goals of this legislation is to bolster U.S. employers by giving them more freedom to legally hire immigrants based on their merit, rather than their country of origin, which will improve the U.S. economy.
If H.R. 3648 is ultimately passed through Congress and signed into law, the EAGLE Act of 2021 will remove the per-country limits on employment-based green cards. Green cards allow immigrants to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely. To obtain a green card based on employment, the employer sponsoring the immigrant must generally prove that there are no U.S. workers who are certified to fill the position and that they must therefore hire an individual from another country to do the work. Unfortunately, many qualified immigrants are unable to obtain green cards based on their job with a U.S. employer because current numerical limits prevent individuals from a single country from receiving 7% of the total green cards issued each year, regardless of the size of the country. By removing the per-country limit for employment-based green cards, the sponsors of the EAGLE Act of 2021 are supporting U.S. employers by providing them with the ability to hire immigrant applicants with the highest qualifications, rather than limiting their options based on the applicants’ places of birth. As Rep. John Curtis explained, “… it will allow U.S. companies to focus on what they do best – hiring smart people to create products and services, which creates jobs in our districts.”
The EAGLE Act would additionally allow most nonimmigrant beneficiaries of employment-based petitions to immediately apply for green cards, even if there is not an immigrant visa immediately available, so long as their petition has been approved for at least two years. This would allow many individuals who have been lawfully living and working in the U.S. through temporary work visas to obtain green cards. This would give the employee immigrants some permanency and stability in their lives, as they would no longer need to continue to wait for years for an immigrant visa to become available.
Though H.R. 3648 mostly affects employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, it would also provide a small benefit to those wanting to lawfully immigrate through family-based green cards. The Act would increase the per-country limit for family-sponsored green cards from 7% to 15%. Under the current numerical limits, some family members must wait many years before they can join their families in the United States. By increasing the per-country numerical limits, certain U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents will be able to reunite with their families much sooner.
Because H.R. 3648 was very recently introduced, it will take some time before it makes its way through the House of Representatives. It will additionally need to be approved by Congress and the president before it can become law. Unfortunately, as with most immigration legislation, there will likely be many obstacles that must be overcome before this bill, or a similar one is signed into law.
If you have any questions regarding green card applications or other immigration matters, please feel free to click the link above to contact us or call our office at (318) 255-9299 and one of our attorneys will get back to you.