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Senate bill addresses green card waiting times

Immigrant advocacy groups in Florida and around the country have long claimed that the government's system for processing permanent residency applications and issuing green cards is unfair. Under the current quota system, no more than 7 percent of the 140,000 employment-based green cards available each year can be issued to immigrants from any single country. This has led to a situation where immigrants from large countries like India and China face green card waiting times of up to 70 years.

American employers are among the most vocal critics of the current employment-based green card allocation system because workers possessing the skills they need often hail from the countries most affected by it. Republican Senator Orin Hatch added his voice to the calls for reform in a May 22 speech. Hatch told Compete America, which advocates on behalf of employers, that the current system unfairly discriminates against immigrants from some of the world's most populous and innovative nations and creates unhealthy imbalances in American workplaces.

According to Hatch, workers who have been issued temporary work visas are forced to live in a kind of limbo. The lawmaker says that these workers are unable to change careers or look for better-paying jobs due to fears about losing their places in the green card line. The speech came four months after the lawmaker introduced the Immigration Innovation Act, which would remove per-country caps and provide relief to immigrants facing decade-long waits.

Those hoping to start new lives in the United States are sometimes baffled by the number of regulations and amount of paperwork involved. Attorneys with experience in this area could explain the various employment immigration programs available. They could also help to ensure that potential immigrants complete all necessary immigration forms properly.

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