The USA’s flip-flop on the H-1B programme has brought uncertainty and insecurity to the lives of high-skilled immigrants and their families. America must salvage the situation and stand by those who are law-abiding
There are many immigrants, particularly those from China and India, who have complied with all immigration formalities. The law allows them to continue working on extended H-1B visas while they wait legally in the United States. This issue is impacting more than 1.5 million high-skilled immigrants who are currently stuck in decades-long green card backlog.
These highly-skilled immigrants, many with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), have followed all the laws, paid taxes and contributed significantly to the United States, but are victims of 50-year-old immigration laws. Discriminatory per country caps in the allocation of immigrant visas have severely impacted their lives, careers, and families.
In spite of having approved immigrant petitions, these immigrants are being subjected to at least a 70-year wait just to adjust their status as legal permanent residents.
Earlier, in the name of protecting workers in the US, they were trying to send these skilled workers home to wait for their green cards, with no guarantee of return.
They imposed travel bans aimed at Muslims for no fault of a particular religion, thereby depriving skilled workers on H-1B visas to remain in their jobs, contribute to the United States and yet be treated in such a shameful manner. This is the worst kind of abuse one can think of. No wonder, the establishment has backed off.
I feel that this continuous assault on the H-1B programme has added tremendous uncertainty and insecurity in the lives of high-skilled immigrants and their families, including children, and us affecting the competitive and innovative culture of America.
To the contrary, countries like Canada have started welcoming super smart and hard working engineers. A lot of top companies in the Silicon Valley will be forced to move to Canada, India, China, Europe, El Salvador, Mexico, Spain, Australia or the Philippines.
The Congress can take multiple actions, such as eliminating per country caps from employment-based immigrant visas, re-capture wasted visas, remove counting of dependents of primary applicant from employment-based category within the same pool, or temporarily increase proportion of employment-based green cards.
The Congress already has a huge consensus on some of these issues. In the interest of American tradition that we stand for, we need to take steps to salvage the situation and stand by those that are law abiding, otherwise no one will trust America again and thousands will be stranded and the US economy will suffer irreparably.
The establishment needs to reevaluate its strategies. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Executive Office for Immigration Review, Court of Appeals as well as the Supreme Court of the United States of America has a huge role to play but the agenda is set at the top and that is unpredictable and unsettling at present.
I will continue to post actual case histories of persons suffering and what we are doing to avert the situation, sometimes we are successful, yet there are some we are not able to save but we will fight till the very end to get justice.
(The author is Attorney at Law, Supreme Court of the United States of America)
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