4th District U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R), right, and 8th District U.S. Rep Kim Schrier (D)

4th District U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R), right, and 8th District U.S. Rep Kim Schrier (D).

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Reps. Dan Newhouse and Kim Schrier signed on as two of more than 300 cosponsors of a visa-allocation bill that sailed through the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, offering more visa opportunities for skilled immigrants and their families.

The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act would increase a per-country cap on the number of family-based immigrant visas, and widen opportunities for immigrants in high-skill occupations such as medicine and technology who hail from high-population countries such as India. 

"In my district, many of these high-skilled professionals are world-class medical scientists, including oncologists and cardiologists," Newhouse said in a speech on the House floor Wednesday.

Under current immigration law, quotas for professional visas awarded on a by-country basis are not scaled to population, meaning immigrants from countries with larger populations receive a thinner share of visas than those from smaller countries. Professionals on a temporary work visa are also prohibited from some paths such as opening their own businesses, and wait times for a green card that allows such steps can be extreme.

Newhouse, a Republican representing Washington's 4th District, called the existing visa disparities "one small piece of our broken system, but a very important one." Schrier is an 8th District Democrat.

The bill had bipartisan support, with 311 consponsors, and passed 365-65. 

Jefferson Robbins: 679-7013

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