Washington: Joe Biden, hours after being sworn in as the 46th President, will send a comprehensive immigration bill to Congress which among other things proposes to eliminate the per country cap for employment-based green cards, a move that would benefit hundreds and thousands of Indian IT professionals in the US, whose current wait period for legal permanent residency runs into several decades.
Called the US Citizenship Act of 2021, the legislation modernises the immigration system, according to an incoming White House official.
It prioritises keeping families together, grows the country's economy, responsibly manages the border with smart investments, addresses the root causes of migration from Central America, and also ensures that the US remains a refuge for those fleeing persecution, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Describing this as a common-sense approach to solving immigration challenges, focusing on what works, the US Citizenship Act 2021 creates a roadmap to citizenship for a population that lives and works in the United States.
January 1, 2021 is the cut-off date for those undocumented workers. Two-thirds of undocumented immigrants have been in the US for 10 years or longer.
It provides an immediate pathway to green cards for individuals who meet certain criteria as they were dreamers or have been recipients of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS), or are farm workers and meet certain criteria.
They can apply for citizenship three years later. For those who don't meet those qualifications, there will be another path to citizenship, where they would be in an interim status for five years.
Afterwards they would be eligible to apply for citizenship within three years after becoming green card holders.
According to the incoming White House official, the bill reforms the family-based immigration system by recapturing unused visas to clear the backlog, eliminating the lengthy waits, and it increases their per country visa caps.
It also eliminates the bars and other provisions that have kept families apart.
"The bill also clears employment-based immigration backlogs by reducing those backlogs altogether, eliminating the per country. It makes it easier for graduates of US universities with advanced degrees, in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields to stay in the US. It also improves access to green cards for workers from the low wage sectors, said the official.
It eliminates again, many of the unnecessary hurdles for employment based green cards. The bill also includes the No Ban Act that prohibits discrimination based on religion and limits presidential authority to issue future bans, the official added.
Indian IT professionals, most of whom are highly skilled and come to the US mainly on the H-1B work visas, are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system which imposes a seven per cent per country quota on allotment of the coveted Green Card or permanent legal residency.
Post the November election outcome, a document of the Biden transition had said he will reform the visa system that has kept so many Indian families in waiting for too long.
"He (Biden) will support first reforming the temporary visa system for high-skill, specialty jobs to protect wages and workers, then expanding the number of visas offered and eliminating the limits on employment-based green cards by country, which have kept so many Indian families in waiting for too long," the document stated.
Biden's bill also increases the diversity visa programme from 55,000 visas to 80,000 per year. This bill is Biden's vision to fix the immigration system once and for all. But it's only the Congress that can provide immigrants with a path to citizenship.
Biden looks forward to working with the Congress to fix our broken immigration system and protect vulnerable populations, including dreamers, those with TPS farm workers and essential workers, said the official.
Let the Truth be known. If you read VB and like VB, please be a VB Supporter and Help us deliver the Truth to one and all.
Bengaluru: A 97-year old man became the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine here as the drive for inoculating the general public got underway in Karnataka on Monday.
After the vaccination drive since January 16 covered health workers and frontline workers, the next phase started from Monday for all people above 60 years of age and those over 45 with comorbidities.
Senior citizens sporting face masks queued up at private Manipal Hospitals here for getting the vaccine shot.
Some of the beneficiaries were wheelchair bound.
"Ramaswami Parthasarathy, 97-year-old, was the first to get vaccinated," Manipal Hospitals said in a statement.
The hospital appealed to the senior citizens and people above 45 years with comorbidities to register themselves for inoculation.
"We at Manipal Hospitals have started the vaccination drive today. The registrations for the vaccination can be competed online through the CoWIN app, and people in the age group of 60 plus can directly walk-in for the vaccination," it said in the statement.
The hospital was cooperating with the government and abiding by the standard procedures and protocols for the vaccination drive, it added.
Meanwhile, the government hospitals too started the preparations for vaccination.
"Today only we got direction from the government. We are starting the registration process from today and will begin the vaccination drive once the preparations are over," Director and Dean of Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Dr C R Jayanthi told PTI.
The state government has said vaccination will take place at all its taluk and district level hospitals and two identified private hospitals in each district.
According to the state health department, vaccination days will be Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays in government facilities and all working days in private hospitals.
The number of vaccinations would be limited to 200 per day per session site and would be on a first come first serve basis. However, online registered beneficiaries would be allotted a specific time in a day.