Differences between House and Senate versions to be addressed with only days left before Congress adjourns

On Wednesday, December 2, 2020 Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) appeared on the Senate floor and requested “unanimous consent” to adopt S. 386, the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, as an amendment to H.R. 1044, the House-passed version of the bill.

On his fifth attempt to pass historic green card reform since he and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced the bill on July 9, 2019, no Senator objected to Lee’s request and the bill was adopted as amended.

“We applaud Senator Lee, Senate leadership, and all of the stakeholders for their hard work in getting this important bill over the finish line,” stated HAF Director of Public Policy Taniel Koushakjian. “We also applaud the work and dedication of our partner organizations, like Immigration Forum, for leading the charge to restore equity in America’s legal immigration system,” Koushakjian said.

“This is a significant step towards fairness,” stated Ravi Bulusu, Executive Director of Immigration Forum. “This bill embodies the true spirit of America as a nation that continues to attract top quality immigrants who in turn help take America forward. We deeply appreciate the work and support of Senators Mike Lee, Dick Durbin, Rick Scott, Representative Zoe Lofgren, and our community partners like HAF,” he said.

Following the bill’s passage, Sen. Lee stated, “Few ideas are more central to who we are as Americans than the notion that people should be judged based on their own merits as individuals and not on their race or nationality. This legislation lives up to our founding principles by ending nationality discrimination in our nation’s employment-based green-card system. It also contains much-needed reforms to our H-1B visa system. American families should always be our top priority and this bill contains strong new protections for American workers.”

The amended version of HR 1044 passed by the Senate on Wednesday would:

  • End country of origin discrimination by eliminating annual country-of-origin caps on green-card visas without increasing the total number of green cards issued each year.
  • Forbid all employers with workforces consisting of more than 50% temporary visa workers from sponsoring any new temporary visa workers.
  • Close the B-1 temporary business visitor visa loophole used by many employers to avoid H-1B visa caps.
  • Levy new fees on all H1-B applications that would be dedicated to investigating fraud in the H-1B system.
  • Prohibit the adjustment of status for any member of the Chinese Communist Party or People’s Liberation Army.

The House passed its version of the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, HR 1044, on July 10, 2019, by a vote of 365-65.

Upon passage of the Senate bill last week, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee and author of the House bill, stated, “I plan to swiftly and thoughtfully work with my colleagues to resolve outstanding issues and get a measure across the finish line that can pass both Houses of Congress.”

House and Senate Judiciary Committee leaders are currently engaged in negotiations to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions and settle on compromise language that can pass both chambers as Congress is expected to adjourn on or before December 18.

“The Hindu American Foundation continues to advocate for Congress to finish their work in good faith and to find a common sense solution so that we can pass this important reform now. The fate of hundreds of thousands of families are at stake,” Koushakjian said.