The Merit-Based Immigration Legislation and How it Impacts the H-1B Program

Since their inception, the H-1B visa and Green Card programs have used certain factors, such as birthplace and workforce skills, to determine which immigrants enter the United States. Now, with the merit-based immigration legislation changes in the Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment Act, these factors have substantially shifted. How does that affect your H-1B visa search? Read on to find out.

How the H-1B Visa and Green Card are Connected

When you come to the United States as a foreign citizen, there are only a few ways you can legally enter. The type of documentation (via a visa) you provide upon arrival to the country depends on your reason for visiting. Most people come for leisure (tourism) or employment, and these visas are temporary. 

Unless you have a dual-intent visa, which is what the H-1B visa provides, it’s difficult to apply for a Green Card for US citizenship while you’re there. You told your home country and the US government that your intent was a temporary stay as a non-immigrant, so that’s what they expect from you. 

However, the H-1B visa allows beneficiaries to begin the Green Card path if they choose to do so while they’re living and employed in the US for the three-year validity period (with an additional optional three-year extension). 

But the Green Card system is extremely backlogged, and in the past, there was a 7% per-country limit on employment-based visas approved. If you applied for an H-1B visa or Green Card, and your country had already reached the 7% approval limit, you had to wait until the following year and try again.

The EAGLE Act of 2022

Both the Democratic and Republican parties introduced the new Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment (EAGLE) Act in 2022. This bill focuses on leveling up the current system to aid the US economy and American employers more than the previous system allowed for.

Now, rather than using the per-country limit to hire immigrants, the EAGLE Act puts more weight on the applicant’s merit. This change is a significant boon to the US workforce, as employers are now able to choose from a wider pool of applicants without undue concern as to whether they’ll be denied simply due to the 7% limit.

Because so many highly-skilled immigrants play a massive role in fields like healthcare, software, and IT services, this gives the US the opportunity to bring in these important workers and fill openings left by US citizens.

The bill addresses the concern of the denial of their application for non-immigrants already in the country legally and trying to obtain a Green Card. Now, if they have merit in their field, they’ll likely receive approval for their normal H-1B visa three-year extension and potentially the Green Card if they apply.

The Transition to First-Come, First-Served Green Cards

The first step on the path to obtaining a Green Card is to get into the US through a visa that allows the Green Card process to begin, such as an H-1B document. This process is complex, and it helps to use legal experts like Visa2US to ensure your application is mistake and delay-free.

Once you’re in the US, should you decide to apply for a Green Card, you now have the advantage of employment-based rather than birthplace-based approval. But through this transition period, there’s a first-come, first-served application allocation.

Foreign nationals from countries who received special treatment with no green card wait time due to per-country limits aren’t overly burdened by this transition. The system is fairer for everyone across the board, regardless of where they’re coming from. 

What’s Next?

The H-1B visa system is in place to allow foreign individuals and their families to obtain temporary residence in the US while working for an approved employer. During this time, they can apply for permanent residence through the Green Card system. In the past, this was a per-country determination, but now, if you can prove that your skills contribute to and enhance the growth of the US economy, you have a better chance at having your H-1B visa and Green Card petitions approved.

This is a vital part of your future, and who you choose to partner with to help you is a crucial decision. Our immigration experts at Visa2US have helped countless people like you obtain their H-1B visas and start the process of getting their Green Cards. Let us add you to our list of successful clients. Call today and begin your new journey to the US!

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H-1B Visa

H-1B Visa

H-1B visa is used by businesses and organizations in the United States to employ foreign nationals with the preferred qualifications, knowledge, and expertise in a role.

I-485 Adjustment of Status

I-485 Adjustment of Status

Submit a form I-485 application to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

An applicant must either hold an advanced degree or have an exceptional ability in their field that would substantially benefit the U.S. to be qualified.