WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has introduced legislation to eliminate per country numerical limits for employment-based immigrants.

The legislation also adjusts limits on family visas without increasing the total number of available visas. 

HR3012, co-sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act. The act says the 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas made available to natives of any foreign country in a year cannot exceed 7 percent of the total number of such visas made available that year. The legislation would eliminate the per-country percentage cap.

“The current percentage cap has created a backlog of qualified workers," Chaffetz said in a news release. American companies view all highly skilled immigrants as the same regardless of where they are from, and our immigration policy should do the same.”

Chaffetz said as he reviewed existing law, "those percentages were very random and arbitrary. It just seems like this is good for business and good for families."

HR3012 creates a fair and equitable “first come, first serve” system, Chaffetz said.

"I am committed to helping fix legal immigration. Per country limits make no sense in the context of employment-based visas. Companies view all highly skilled immigrants as the same regardless of where they are from — be it India or Brazil,” said Chaffetz. Removing per country limits will enable American companies to access the best talent, he said.

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Existing law prohibits U.S. employers from hiring international workers to fill these jobs unless there are not sufficient American workers who are able, willing, qualified and available.

This legislation is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Compete America (a coalition of high tech companies such as Microsoft, Google and Oracle) and various trade organizations.

The bill also would adjust family-based visa limits from 7 percent to 15 percent per country. Again, the total number of that type of visa would not change but it "loosens up the per country caps."

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