NEW YORK: In the latest monthly visa bulletin issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the EB-3 line for an Indian national to get a Green Card stands at May 15, 2005. In comparison, EB-3 visa line for Chinese nationals is at October 1, 2014. Barring Philippines, which stands at May 1, 2013, all other countries in the world is either current, or in the case of Mexico, at April 2017. The EB-3 visa is for skilled workers who have either got advanced degrees in the United States or have loads of work experience in their field of expertise.
Some in the EB-3 visa line had previously emigrated on H-1B visa directly. Others got an advanced degree on an F-1 visa in the US before being sponsored for an H-1B visa. After an employer sponsors that individual for a Green Card, begins the interminable wait.
Here’s the thing: the EB-3 visa line for Indians sometimes moves forward by 1 day every visa bulletin month – 12 days in total in a year; perhaps a little bit more, sometimes the priority date even retrogresses, goes in reverse, when USCIS find themselves overwhelmed by visa applications.
Please bring out your calculator, since I’m not too good at Math. Here’s your math question: how much time will it take for a skilled Indian worker to get a Green Card if he or she were to apply for a Green Card on EB-3, say, from May 15, 2017, if the visa bulletin moves every month by 1 day, and currently stands at May 15, 2005?
If your math is as bad as mine, threw up your hands in frustration, it’s understandable. Or if you want to take the easier route, calculate instead how much time somebody from Pakistan or Iran would wait if they file for a Green Card today (and get it almost immediately, since the priority date is current), that’s ok.
One thing’s for sure: whatever that number for Indians to get a Green Card, humans as of date don’t live that long. It’s a futile exercise; for those who are applying for a Green Card (unless that person believes the immortality pill will hit the market soon) and those who figure out the rationale of the USCIS.
Of course, the USCIS doesn’t mind. They run on the fees paid by people like those on the EB-3 visa line to renew their documents every year, including work permit and travel papers. If all the EB-3 and EB-2 visa Indian applicants were to withdraw today (the latter is also quite stagnant), USCIS would be in dire financial trouble.
This column is not about math or even pointing out the absurd number of years skilled workers wait for a Green Card in the US; with the current scenario an impossible one to gauge.
It’s the irony of it all; the unfairness of the immigration system.
Reports this week said that Jared Kushner’s family business, real estate developers, touted the EB-5 visa program and lure of Green Card, to wealthy investors in China on a road trip, using his name to push a luxury apartment complex in New Jersey.
Despite allegations of ‘Green Card for sale’ and numerous cases of fraud, I, for one, favor the EB-5 visa program, especially over the Diversity Visa Lottery.
The EB-5 program, set up by Congress in 1990, created 174,000 jobs in 2012 and 2013, accounted for 4.3 % of the U.S. job growth during those two difficult years, as the country rebounded from a depression.
The EB-5 visa also constitutes at present only around 10,000 – including the investors and their families – of the total of one million green cards issued every year by the US. State Department data shows that in 2007, 793 EB-5 visas were granted, with the number rising to 9,947 by 2016. Since 2012, more than 70% of those coming on EB-5 are from China. India is 6th on the list, with 149 visas.
The EB-5 program is far better than the 50,000 Green Cards issued every year to the poor and destitute from around the world in the name of a ‘Diversity Visa Lottery’, with the recipients of the former once they emigrate, dependent on welfare to survive; seek help from the US government in even finding a job, eke a living. Example: a Bangladeshi rickshaw puller and his family landing in Ohio, to start a new life.
The real irony, however, lies in how the US treats its long-time residents on EB-3 and EB-2 visas, especially the Indians, and Chinese, to a lesser extent.
Is it fair that while $500,000 from a wealthy stranger in China gives him and his family an instant, hassle-free Green Card through the EB-5 route, a EB-2 or EB-3 visa applicant who after paying for an education in a US university, buys a house, invests locally, pays local, state and federal taxes, including for Social Security and Medicare, starts a family, puts down roots in the community, finds himself at the mercy of the USCIS and the US government as the pipeline for permanent residency clogs up for decades? Apart from the fact that the EB-3 and EB-2 hopeful is also in constant danger of having to leave the country in case he loses a job which sponsored his Green Card.
The question for the US government is: why prefer to give Green Card to somebody who puts down $500,000 into a real estate project, and not to somebody who contributes much more than that amount by living for a long time in the US?
To put it simply: it’s sheer nonsense.
The US Congress should be ashamed of themselves for not caring two hoots for their hard working, conscientious, legal skilled Indian residents. It is these skilled workers who through their astute belief in playing by the rules and contributing regularly for years, made the US a strong economy.
The solution is simple: give Green Card to those legal immigrants from India and China who not only deserve it, but have earned it. Why not make it a rule to give an instant Green Card to any legal resident who has been waiting in line for a Green Card for at least 10 years?
That would be a start.
California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein had this to say about the EB-5 visa and the other less privileged waiting in line for one: “I’ve long called for an end to the EB-5 program. It says that visas — and eventual U.S. citizenship — are for sale, a terrible message for the 4.4 million people waiting in line for visas—some for as long as 23 years.”
Sen. Feinstein is absolutely right. Except that the wait time of 23 years might actually be 230 years for somebody applying for a Green Card through EB-3 today.
(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on twitter @SujeetRajan1)