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16th December 2022 (8 Topics)

White House supports ‘EAGLE Act’

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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