The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report on the employment-based immigration process on December 21, 2018, recommending the removal of per-country ceilings on visa numbers, or caps, for employment-based prospective immigrants applying for lawful permanent resident status.
As background, the current U.S. immigration systems allots a maximum 7 percent quota to each country for employment-based immigrant visas per year. The United States issues 140,000 such visas annually for all five employment-based LPR categories. The highest number of applicants originate from India, ahead of China and the Philippines.
The CRS, a bipartisan independent research entity of Congress, released the report entitled “Permanent Employment-Based Immigration and the Per-country Ceiling.” According to the CRS, while eliminating the per-country cap would result in the entry of high-skilled immigrants into the United States without increasing the total number of employment-based immigrant visas per year, effectively such a move would allow several countries like India and China to dominate the flow of employment-based immigration for the years required to clear out the backlog of applicants from those countries.
Supporters of the current per-country cap said the rule helps curb the dominance of “a handful of countries” and maintains the diversity of prospective employment-based immigrants entering the United States. According to the CRS report, Indian nationals face especially long waits for visa numbers, often many years, depending on visa category. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services noted that around 318,000 Indian nationals and more than 67,000 Chinese nationals are currently awaiting the availability of visa numbers. Many are employed in the IT sector.