Visa Crunch

US Reconciliation Bill Aims To Recapture Unused Family & Employment-Based Green Card, Will Benefit Skilled Indians

In the recently released US Budget Reconciliation Bill (or draft Build Back Better Act), is a recommendation for trying to recapture the unused family and employment-based green card numbers from 1992 to 2021.

If this proposal is approved, it will benefit large numbers of backlogged skilled Indians who have been waiting for an employment-based green card for 84 years, according to a Cato Institute study. But the ultimate result of this proposal remains uncertain because it must be approved by both the House and the Senate.

The recent tweet of Dr Pranav Singh struck a chord with the Indian diaspora in the United States. Dr Singh, a critical care physician, after having lived in the US for 15 long years had decided to move back to India with his family. So his views on the malfunctioning US immigration system have struck a chord with many residing in the US.

Singh tweeted, “As a US critical care physician if I decided to leave in the midst of a pandemic to come back to India, this is the number one reason. Systemic racism is entrenched in the US immigration system and Indians are the most marginalized legal immigrants due to segregationist country caps”.

He added that “My wife who is the only endocrinologist in our rural Iowa hospital will be a loss to her patients and community. No one seems to care, so neither do we now.” His anguish was expressed in the final sentence, which was typed in bold.

Many others have either returned to India or relocated to neighbouring Canada, which offers a more straightforward path to permanent residency (similar to a US green card) and an easier path to citizenship.

According to the Niskanen Center, a policy think tank based in Washington, there are approximately 4 million people waiting for family-based green cards and approximately one million in the employment-based green card backlog. The US government allocates only 1.40 lakh green cards for employment-based applicants each year, with a 7 per cent per-country cap.

Given the large influx of Indians in the United States, the majority of whom hold an H-1B visa, this restrictive policy poses difficulties and has led to a significant backlog for them in the employment-based category. However, the controversy that Indians will advantage at the expense of others is completely baseless.

In his post, Jeremy L. Neufeld, immigration policy analyst at Niskanen Center points out, “…nothing being considered changes the per-country caps. So, as far as recapture is concerned, only 7% of the recaptured visas can go to Indians. Whatever one’s opinions on the per-country caps, they will remain in place and ensure diversity for recipients of recaptured green cards.”

The Build Back Better Act also includes provisions that would permit foreign nationals to pay additional fees to bypass the green card lines. “I am pleased that the Build Back Better Act legislation released in the US House of Representatives will finally provide relief for the over 1.2 million high-skilled workers stuck in the employment-based green card backlog,” says Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi.

“Democrats have heard these workers’ heart-breaking stories of decades-long green card lines and children being forced to self-deport, and are now taking action,” he said in his statement.

Furthermore, the draft Build Back Better Act modifies the Immigration and Nationality Act registry cut-off deadline to enable individuals who arrived in The United States before January 1, 2010, to apply for green cards.

Moreover, given that the Senate Parliamentarian did not comply with previous immigration recommendations being included in a budget resolution, the Indian diaspora is not overjoyed and is taking a wait-and-watch attitude.

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