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White House supports ‘EAGLE Act’

  • Published
    16th Dec, 2022
Context

Recently, the White House supported the US Congress to pass legislation (EAGLE Act of 2022), whose aim is to eliminate the per-country quota on issuing green cards.

What is the EAGLE Act of 2022?

  • It is known as The Immigration Bill, HR 3648.
  • Eagle stands for Equal Access to Green cards for Legal Employment (EAGLE) Act, 2022.
  • It focuses on hiring immigrants based on merit, not their birthplace.
  • It was originally introduced in House on June 1st, 2021.
  • It was later re-introduced in 2022.

The goal of the Act:

  • 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).”

Exceptions:

  • During the transition period, some visas would be put aside for:
    • Physical therapists and nurses
    • employment-based immigrants and their family members who are not currently in the United States
  • Individuals waiting in the immigrant visa backlog: The act includes provisions to allow individuals who have been waiting in the immigrant visa backlog for two years to file their green card applications.

Impact on less-populated countries:

  • To reduce the impact of this on less-populated countries, the legislation plans to phase out the per-country caps over the course of nine years.

Benefits of the act

  • It will benefit the US economy by allowing American employers to focus on hiring immigrants based on their merit, not their birthplace.
  • The bill will be advantageous for Indian job-seekers who currently rely on temporary visas or await green cards to work in the US.
  • Faster processing of the citizenship application will also help immigrant workers to get protection from exploitation

Resistance from Americans:

  • Several Americans have expressed their scepticism about the Act and have shown concern:
    • This would encourage more foreigners to come to the US for residency.
    • The low-wage and low-skilled workers would get Green Cards.

How will the legislation benefit Indian Americans?

  • 75 per cent of the backlog for employment? based visas were made up of Indians. Because of the per-country cap, the backlog has touched millions.
  • Backlogged Indian workers face an impossible wait of nine decades if they all could remain in the line
  • More than 200,000 petitions filed for Indians could expire as a result of the workers dying of old age before they receive green cards.
  • With the EAGLE Act 2022, the per-country cap would be removed, which may expedite the petitions for those applying for employment-based green cards.

What is a green card and what are its benefits?

  • It is officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, a green card, issued to immigrants, that allows them to live and work in the United States permanently.
  • Benefits of having a green card:
    • 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
    • it makes travel to and from the country becomes much easier
    • a cardholder 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
    • the cardholder can also have some amount of engagement in the political process of the country

How long does it take Green Card holders to become US citizens?

  • Once issued, a Green Card is valid for ten years.
  • A Green Card holder can apply for US citizenship after five years of permanent residency.
  • They need to renew their Green Card before applying for citizenship if it is set to expire in less than six months or has already expired.
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