WASHINGTON (17 October 2019) – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced legislation that addresses one of the most serious problems in our immigration system: to alleviate the long multiyear waits for individuals who have been cleared to immigrate to the United States.

The Resolving Extended Limbo for Immigrant Employees and Families (RELIEF) Act would eliminate the employment-based green card backlog by increasing the number of available green cards. Close to four million future Americans are on the State Department’s immigrant visa waiting list, in addition to hundreds of thousands of high-skilled immigrants already in the U.S. who are also waiting for green cards – in some cases, for a decade or more. IEEE-USA strongly supports this legislation.

The RELIEF Act would:

  • Eliminate the employment green card backlog over five years;
  • Keep American families together by classifying spouses and children of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) as immediate relatives and exempting derivative beneficiaries of employment-based petitions from annual green card limits;
  • Protect “aging out” children who qualify for LPR status based on a parent’s immigration petition;
  • Lift country caps; and,
  • Extend the “hold harmless” clause from H.R. 1044 that exempts immigrant visa petitions approved prior to enactment from the lifting of country caps to petitions approved for five years after enactment.

Sen. Durbin’s proposal is a win-win. Because the immigrants impacted by this policy already have jobs here, no American jobs would be affected. And since immigrants with advanced engineering degrees are among the most entrepreneurial in the world, the RELIEF Act will actually create jobs by allowing immigrants to start new companies and then hire more workers – something they can’t do until they have a green card.

“Skilled immigrants to this country face such a long wait to get a green card that we risk some of these individuals giving up and taking their talent to other countries,” said Thomas Coughlin, president of IEEE-USA. “The RELIEF Act is a plan that helps everyone – skilled immigrants, and the American public most of all.”



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Corey Ruth
Media Relations Associate, IEEE-USA Communications

Russell Harrison
Director, IEEE-USA Government Relations