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US House passes immigration measure on 389 to 15 vote

Tuesday the United States House passed an immigration measure lifting the per country cap on family-based visas from seven to 15 percent. The measure also would affect employment-based visas by eliminating the seven percent per country cap on the roughly 140,000 visas set aside for employment.

In the last post, this blog reported that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that the H-1B visa cap has been met for fiscal year 2012. The new measure does not increase the overall number of available employment-based visas. The measure merely makes worker based green cards a first-come, first-served venture.

Sources say the proposed changes to the family-based visa program under the House measure would slightly ease the backlog for naturalized citizens who are trying to bring relatives into the country. Experts believe the new law would primarily ease the backlog for citizens seeking to bring non-immediate relatives from Mexico and the Philippines.

Typically, visas for immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen are not subject to the per country caps that are the focus of the House bill. Relatives who qualify as an immediate relative of a U.S citizen generally include the citizen's spouse, unmarried children under 21 years of age, or the parent of someone who is at least 21.

The House measure affects the caps associated with so-called family preference immigrant visas. Family preference visas include such relatives as a person over the age of 21 who is the son or daughter of a U.S. citizen, a spouse and the minor children of a U.S. permanent resident and brothers or sister of U.S. citizens.

The majority of immigrants admitted into the United States enter under the family-based visa programs. Immigrants from Mexico comprise roughly 30 percent of all of the U.S immigrant population. Nearly all of the immigrants coming to the U.S from Mexico who are granted permanent residency status enter the country on a family-based visa.

The measure passed the House Tuesday on a 389 to 15 vote. The measure now moves on to the Senate.

Source: Fox News Latino, "Visa Bill Would Pave Way for More Mexicans to Make US Home," Elizabeth Llorente, Nov. 30, 2011

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