Sens. Cramer, Hickenlooper Introduce Bipartisan Legislation Allowing Merit-Based Immigration – Kevin Cramer
The Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment Act eliminates arbitrary per-country limits on employment-based visas.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) introduced the Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment (EAGLE) Act of 2022, a bill which will benefit the U.S. economy by allowing American employers to focus on hiring immigrants based on their merit, not their birthplace. The EAGLE Act phases out the 7% per-country limit on employment-based immigrant visas and raises the 7% per-country limit on family-sponsored visas to 15%.
“It’s no secret our immigration system is broken and, given current workforce challenges, it’s high time to implement a skills-based immigration system. In North Dakota, we rely on thousands of highly-skilled immigrants, especially when it comes to rural healthcare and software developers. These individuals play an important role in our economy and our communities, but because of arbitrary per country caps, their legal status is constantly in jeopardy. Our bill fixes this issue by instituting a merit-based system regardless of their country of origin without increasing the number of employment-based visas we already allow,” said Senator Cramer.
“Everyone is hurting for workers. Fixing our immigration system will help fix our workforce shortage and spur economic growth. Removing arbitrary caps based on where an immigrant is born should be part of the solution,” said Senator Hickenlooper.
“The EAGLE Act is a win-win for the American people. Similar provisions passed both bodies of Congress last year illustrating broad, bipartisan support among members. This bill transitions the allocation of employment based green cards to a first-come, first served application while not unduly burdening foreign nationals from countries that were accustomed to special treatment and having no wait time at all to receive green cards due to discriminatory per country limits. It ensures that in exchange for changing the green card system to become fairer for all international applicants, American workers are made the top-priority for hiring by all U.S. companies such that no foreign worker can undercut an American worker for a U.S. job. We are incredibly grateful to Senator Cramer and Senator Hickenlooper for leading the bill and urge the it’s swift passage,” said Aman Kapoor, Co-Founder and President, Immigration Voice.
Click here for bill text.
The employment-based visa system provides permanent residence (or “green cards”) to individuals whose work contributes to U.S. economic growth and enhances our competitive advantage. To qualify, a sponsoring employer generally must advertise and prove that they are unable to find a qualified U.S. worker to fill the position. Thus, although America’s employment-based visa system starts out as “merit-based,” what happens next has nothing to do with merit or skills—visas are allocated based on the intending immigrant’s country of birth.
In Fiscal Year 2021, 66,781 employment-based immigrant visas went unused despite many countries having qualified applicants, highlighting the inefficiency of a country of origin based limit on visas.
Approximately 95% of employment-based immigrants currently live and work in the United States on temporary visas while waiting for a visa to become available. Some of these individuals remain in temporary status for many years, if not decades, because of the caps applied to their country of nationality. The new, phased-in system, established in the bipartisan EAGLE Act, would help ease the backlog for those who wait the longest.
In December 2020, the Senate passed Senator Cramer’s Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act to lift the per-country caps on high-skilled immigrants.
Similar to the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, the EAGLE Act:
In February of 2019, Senator Cramer brought Debjyoti Dwivedy (“DD”), a North Dakota State University alumnus and Vice President of Immigration Voice, a group which advocates for these bills, as his guest to the State of the Union.