Republican bill to make room for more immigrant visas!

Proposes to Replace DV Lottery with Visa for Advanced Degree Holders

While attempts have been made to terminate the Diversity Lottery or Green Card Lottery program before, none of them had put forward such a desirable replacement program of Immigrant Visa for Advanced Degree holders.  The Bill, called S. 2868 as of now, was introduced to the House by Republican Senator Judd Gregg on April 16, 2008 (NH) and is co-sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN), Sen. Elizabeth Dole (NC), Sen. John Sununu (NH), Sen. John Cornyn (TX), and Sen. Orrin Hatch (UT).

The Bill proposes to replace the diversity visa lottery program with a new program that will use the DV visa quota for issuing visas to aliens with an advanced degree. This proposal is already garnering favorable public reaction, as US is currently focusing on inviting and retaining advance degree holders in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM).

In his introductory statement, Sen. Gregg stated, “Talent is a nation’s most important resource in today’s information age, and our nation’s immigration policies need to catch up to this economic reality. In addition to increasing the number of H-1B visas and employment-based visas for highly skilled workers, I believe that Congress should realign our immigration programs so they better meet our economic needs, including the well-documented shortage of workers with advanced degrees in the math and sciences. By converting a lottery visa program that has marginal skills requirements into one that is focused on the best and the brightest, we strengthen our competitive advantage, spur economic and job growth here in the United States, and deter employers from sending work overseas where highly skilled talent is located.”

If passed, the amendments made by this section shall take effect on October 1, 2008.

Amendment Bill S-2868

The new bill S 2868 intends to amend title II of the Immigration and Nationality Act to replace the diversity visa lottery program with a program that issues visas to aliens with an advanced degree. The Bill proposes to do so simply by reallocating the 55,000 Visa slots to Aliens Who Hold An Advanced Degree In Science, Mathematics, Technology, Or Engineering.

The Bill also clearly states that the allocation of visa slots will be quite similar to the H1-B process i.e. if the number of applications exceed the quota, the petitions will be subjected to random lottery as was in the case of the original program. However, if the numbers of petitions do not exceed the quota, applications will be processed on the first come first serve basis. Petitions received on the “last date of application” determined by the USCIS will be subjected to random selection.

What is Diversity Lottery program?

The Diversity Lottery program or Green card Lottery as it is called, is a program which allows 55,000 people from selected countries and eligible backgrounds to apply for a green card through a lottery system. The list of eligible countries is updated almost every year based on many criteria, one of which is the country must not have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to US in the last five years.

The minimum eligibility requirements for the beneficiary of DV Lottery program are at least high school education or equivalent, and two years of work experience. Keeping in mind the current demand on the H1B Special Occupation non-Immigrant Visa quota and the recent request from US corporate giants to allow for more foreign labor, a Visa Program for Advanced Degree holders in STEM will probably more welcome then the DV Lottery, which is almost on its way out.

Past Efforts at Terminating DV Lottery

In December 2005, US Senators tried to introduce an amendment to the border enforcement bill H.R. 4437 which would have terminated the DV program. The Bill was not passed. In March 2007 again, another amenment was introduced to eliminate the diversity visa program and met with the same fate.

In June 2007, the U.S. House introduced H.R.2764 which eliminated funding for the DV program. However, when the Bill was finally made ito law, it did not include this particluar ammnedment.

As we can see, several attempts have been made to terminate this program which has been plagued by scams as well. It remains to be seen if the most recent one will succeed or not.