US President Donald Trump has proposed to end the visa lottery system in favour of reducing the backlogs of highly-skilled workers, a plan which may benefit thousands of Indian IT professionals who are currently having several decades of waiting period to get their green cards.
If passed by the Congress and signed into law, such a move is expected to significantly reduce the green card backlogs for highly skilled immigrants from India. The Diversity Immigrant Visa Programme, which the Trump administration wants to terminate, awards up to 50,000 individuals per year a visa for a green card, which allows permanent residency and is a path to US citizenship.
Trump has been against diversity visa as he believes that this does not attract the best and the brightest to the US. In the recent past, several of the home grown terrorists, including prime accused of New York terrorist attacks, came either on diversity visa or chain migration.
“Eliminate lottery and reallocate the visas to reduce the family-based ‘backlog’ and high-skilled employment ‘backlog’,”according to the White House framework on immigration reform and border security released by the Trump administration.
The programme provides green cards for up to 50,000 immigrants each year from countries with low rates of emigration to the US. It is one of the ways that green cards are issued under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The other significant sources of green cards are for family-sponsored immigrants, employment-based immigrants, refugees and people granted asylum.
Diversity visas are allocated geographically. Nationals of countries from which 50,000 or fewer immigrants came to the US over the previous five years combined are eligible for diversity visas. Immigrants from any one country may not receive more than seven percent of diversity visas issued annually.
Given that there are hundreds and thousands of Indian IT professionals waiting in queue to get their green cards because of the current country quota, the relocation of diversity visa numbers to green cards is expected to hugely benefit them. Immigrants from 18 countries are not eligible for diversity visa because they sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the US over the previous five years combined.
The countries are Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, the UK and Vietnam.