NEW YORK – Imagine this hypothetical situation: a brilliant young man from India, 30 years old, let’s say with degrees from IIT, MIT and Harvard, get a job on an H-1B visa, applies in February, 2018, for a Green Card. Care to take a guess when he would get it? Ok, you probably guessed wrong. The answer: 100 years later. No typos there. That precious Green Card would probably come by around 2118.
Ok, let’s carry on with this hypothetical story. That young man, as he waits for permanent residency, commits the ‘egregious’ act of getting married to a brilliant young woman from India, his childhood sweetheart. She has a doctorate, a lovely job in Mumbai, but chucks it all away to be with her man in America.
Now, she’s on H-4 spouse visa, unable to work legally, so stays at home, does some volunteer work in the community, to while away time. Some years later, they have a baby, buy a house. For argument sake, let’s say the woman wanted to have her baby in India. So the child is now an Indian passport holder. Mother and son both come back to the US on an H-4 visa.
Now, this young man (not so young any more) begins to stagnate at his job waiting for his Green Card. He has marital problems at home. His wife is getting exasperated with her unfair situation, gets grumpy, angry seeing her friends in India and those lucky enough to have a Green Card in the US do great at their careers, post photos of their radiant family on Facebook; while she wilts away. Their child is getting older too.
Guess what happens to that child (now a young man himself) when he turns 21 on his H-4 visa: he has to either enroll into a F-1 international student visa program, or be forced to leave the US, go back to India. After he graduates, he has to get an H-1B visa himself, or be deported to India.
Unfortunately, this hypothetical situation is not a figment of imagination: it’s actually playing out in hundreds of thousands of homes all across the US.
The reason for the astounding, preposterous delay in issuing a Green Card to skilled workers from India on a H-1B visa, unlike other countries, is because of a ‘country cap’ on the number of visas issued every year to a particular country.
No other country – apart from Chinese citizens who have to wait for a few, have to wait like an Indian for his or her Green Card. Petitioners from other countries get it almost immediately, within a few months.
It’s only an Indian H-1B visa worker who will probably die waiting for his Green Card.
Here’s the irony: if that man (who applied at the age of 30 years) does eventually get his Green Card after 100 years, at the age of 130 (beating the record of the oldest living man on Earth), then his family too will finally get it, if his wife and son are still alive that is. But in case let’s say he dies at the age of 100, working at the same job (imagine that, if you can), then his wife and son would not get it either; would be forced to leave the US, back to India.
Now, some eminent Indian Americans have together to form a group called GCReforms.org (www.GCReforms.org), to create awareness about this massive backlog for Green Card, for Indian skilled workers.
They say it’s impacting some 300,000 high-skilled Indian applicants. Under the current regulation, these workers and their family members have to wait for anywhere from 25-92 years for a Green Card due to per-country limits.
“We not only support the physician groups involved in the immigration issues but also supports a fair green card allocation process for engineers and other professionals that are caught up in the quandary,” said GcReforms.org president Sampat Shivangi, speaking to PTI.
Other members in the group include: Ved Nanda, distinguished university professor at University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Kiran Kumar Thota, Rishi Bhutada, director at Hindu American foundation, Jagdish Sharma, chair, Indian American Friendship Forum, and Prakash Wadhwa, creator of the film ‘From The Land Of Gandhi’, on Green Card backlog.
On the GCReforms.org website, there are some interesting statistics: out of the 1 million Green Cards issued annually, a whopping 860,000 go to family-based, refugees and Diversity Visa Lottery recipients.
Only the rest, 140,000 go to EB (Employment Based) categories, with EB 3 the worst off, despite applicants in it even having doctoral degrees under their belt. Combined, EB2 and EBS recipients – the most common of H-1B visa aspirants for a Green Card and the worst off in the jammed pipeline, get only 80,000 Green Cards annually.
To nail it down: despite India getting 60% of these work visas, their share of the Green Cars is only 7%. Thus, every year, out of this 80,000 total Green Card issues to EB 2 and EB3 applicants, 74,400 goes to people from other countries, making them ‘current’ with no wait time. When it comes to India, the number is only 5,600 Green Cards per year. More than 44,000 EB2 and EB3 applicants from India go into a wait list every year, creating the backlog.
There seems to be no end in sight to this living nightmare for these skilled, high-income workers from India. They are model citizens, law abiding, and wait patiently for the US government to do the right thing.
President Trump, please do the right thing: remove the country cap limit on allocation of Green Cards for Indian workers.
(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)