Is the Senate immigration law reform bill already influencing immigrant visa availability?

The Senate immigration law reform bill, if passed, will provide new ways to obtain immigrant visas (green cards), but also will eliminate some existing option for foreign national to obtain U.S. permanent resident status.

New ways to obtain include option for foreign nationals with U.S. degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), to obtain immigrant visas without requiring their employers to first obtain labor certification from the Department of Labor. Further, the bill will get rid of the existing backlogs in employment based immigrant visas for skilled workers. Also, if the bill passes it will create a merit-based visa system that would award green cards based on a holistic assessment of an alien’s skills, education, work history, ties to the United States, knowledge of the English language, business activities, community service, and country of nationality.However, the bill if passed, will eliminate diversity visa program and family based immigrant visas petitions for U.S. citizens’ siblings.

When August 2013 visa bulletin (http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_6028.html) was released, one would not help but think that the proposed bill is already influencing the immigrant visas availability. In the released bulletin, the employment based immigrant visas for Indian nationals with advanced degrees backlogs decreased considerably. The cut-off date for this category went from September 1, 2004 to January 1, 2008. Also, the cut-off date for spouses and children of U.S. permanent residents went from October 8, 2011 to being current/available. This means that in the month of August 2013, spouses and children of green card holders who have been waiting to adjust to green card status will be able to do so as the immigrant visas will become available. It also means that green card holders who have not filed for their spouses or children’s immigrant visa petitions, may do so and concurrently file for adjustment of status (if spouses and/or children are present in the U.S. in any non-immigrant visa status).

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