By Anayat Durrani
A new House bill may offer hope for individuals stuck in the seemingly endless green card backlog and will grant lawful permanent residency in the U.S.
In a statement by the House Judiciary Committee, Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) revealed the committee print for the Committee markup on legislative proposals under the budget reconciliation instructions. The House Judiciary Committee voted 25-19 on September 13 to advance the legislation.
“The reconciliation bill provides a pathway to lawful permanent residence for a broad range of individuals in the United States, with varying lawful and unlawful immigration statuses,” says Ray Lahoud, member, Norris McLaughlin, P.A. and chair, Immigration Practice Group.
Proposed bill offers hope for EB-5 investors stuck in the backlog
Per the committee print, an employment-based immigrant applicant that has a priority date that is two years old or more can adjust to permanent residence without numerical limits by paying a supplemental fee of $5,000. Those waiting in the EB-5 backlog with a priority date of at least two years old can pay a supplemental fee of $50,000 to apply for adjustment of status. The provisions are set to expire in 2031.
“The bill provides a supplemental fee structure for certain immigrant visa applications, that would permit individuals who pay the supplemental fee to, put simply, skip the visa wait line,” says Lahoud.
The bill also will recapture some 226,000 immigrant visas in family and employment-based categories unused from FY1992 to FY2021, which Lahoud says, “would help clear years of visa backlogs and significantly reduce immigrant visa priority date wait times.”
Proposed bill would help EB-5 investors get their green card faster
If the bill makes it through Congress, Lahoud says the impact on US immigration law will be significant. For expedited processing, he says foreign investors are more than willing to pay these kinds of fees.
“The goal with the EB-5 program is permanent residence – the quicker the better, regardless of filing fees and costs,” says Lahoud.
EB-5 attorney Mona Shah, Mona Shah & Associates Global, says while any effort to address the visa backlog is welcome, she remains skeptical about this bill’s viability in Congress.
“There are certain provisions within the bill that have been historically divisive amongst politicians. Should the bill pass, it will grant EB-5 investors the opportunity to expedite their applications but will not substantially alleviate long processing times,” says Shah.
She says the bill is more of a first step instead of a solution to the issue. For example, the bill does not eliminate country caps for green cards or raise the annual quotas of H-1B visas.
“I hope to see more robust efforts to address the visa backlog and support for immigrant investors,” says Shah.