Senators Durbin & Leahy introduce bill to eliminate Green Card backlog

  • Posted on October 25, 2019 | Updated on December 20, 2019 | 5 min read

An alternative to the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act has been proposed. While the new RELIEF bill would similarly phase-out country caps, the key point of difference is it would also increase the number of EB5 Green Cards, eliminating the backlog over the next five years. While bill passage isn’t likely, it’s good to see Leahy, a cosponsor of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2019, making news about the backlog.

Introduced by Senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy, the Resolving Extended Limbo for Immigrant Employees and Families (RELIEF) Act has been proposed to eliminate the family and employment-based Green Card backlog. It aims to provide relief to the almost 4 million people in other countries, plus hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the U.S., waiting for Green Cards. 

Currently, the employment-based category hands out 140,000 Green Cards a year, with spouses and children counting against this quota. The RELIEF Act would double the number of EB5 Green Cards issued and potentially end the shortage crisis. 

Senator Durbin states, “one of the most serious problems in our broken immigration system is that there are not nearly enough green cards available each year. The solution to this backlog is clear: increase the number of green cards.”

Durbin calls the bill “common-sense legislation” and says “outdated immigration laws close doors to those who would make enormous contributions to our communities and economies.” 

In addition to eliminating the visa backlog, the bill also aims to “help keep American families together” by not counting spouses and children against the quotas and by protecting children from “aging out,” a fairly common issue today when the children of main petitioners are forced to leave the U.S. because they have turned 21 before their parents are issued Green Cards. 

The independent U.S. think tank CATO lauds the bill and says it would reduce wait times to less than a year for everyone seeking employment-based Green Cards. CATO declares, “the RELIEF ACT probably contains the best legal immigration reforms overall since the comprehensive immigration reform bill (s.744) that passed the Senate in June 2013.”

The bill has the support of many organizations including the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). While the bill is not likely to be passed, having Senator Leahy, who has been prominently in the EB-5 news headlines, support the bill may encourage awareness and dialogue of the backlog issue.

Read Senator Durbin’s press release

Read the CATO analysis

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