A potential amendment to the forthcoming budget bill may dramatically raise the employment-based visa quota, if Senate Democrats can rewrite it in a way to appease the Senate parliamentarian. Over the weekend, Senate Democrats attempted to pass a positive immigration bill, but the Senate parliamentarian said that it was inappropriate to include wide-ranging immigration language in a budget bill. Senate Democrats are said to be working on a back-up plan.
A budget bill is expected to pass before October 1, 2021 to prevent a federal government shut down. Between now and then, the budget negotiations are expected to consume Washington. As part of the process, House and Senate committees propose and suggest language to place into the bill.
The House Judiciary Committee last week approved immigration language for the budget bill, which included several positive immigration measures. Notably, the HJC language included a “recapture” of immigrant visas that were authorized but unused by DHS from 1992-2021. A 2010 report by DHS found that between 1992-2010 about a half million employment based visas were authorized by Congress but unused simply because of bureaucratic delays and inefficiencies. Recapturing these visas would dramatically clear up most retrogressed green cards and would be an amazing piece of legislation for foreign nationals, US employers, and the US economy as a whole.
The language included a few other positive items:
-A legalization path for a large number of undocumented people in the US
-A similar recaptured visas for family-based visas
-A liberalized Adjustment of Status process for those with priority dates that are 2 years old
-An increased budget allocation for USCIS