Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Chanduv23's contribution

The following has been edited for content. This was written by a highly-skilled professional.

I am a highly-skilled professional who entered this country legally. I’ve been waiting for my US permanent resident visa -also known as "Green Card" for the past several years along with 500,000 other educated, highly skilled employment based (EB) immigrants. Many of us have been waiting for our turn to get Green Cards for 5-10 years while consistently abiding by all the laws of this country. Such long delays are due to tortuous and confusing paper work, backlogs due to various quotas and processing delays at US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and other allied state and federal agencies.

Several categories of EB immigrant visa (Green Card) numbers have been unavailable (“retrogressed”) since the fall of 2005. Because our immigrant petitions are tied to the sponsoring employer, these delays have led to indentured servitude for several of us. Our professional prospects, job mobility and potential opportunities for entrepreneurship have been compromised.

For the past several decades, the US Department of State (DOS) has been publishing advisories known as visa bulletins once a month to announce the availability of immigrant visa numbers. On June 13, 2007, after a gap of nearly two years, DOS announced that all EB visa numbers would be “current” for the month of July. This meant, irrespective of our “priority date” (date assigned to us for our turn in the line for Green Cards), all of us were made eligible to apply for some interim immigration benefits. This “priority date” refers to the date when our labor certification (documentation verifying no US citizen worker was available for a given job) had been filed.

Please note that 6/13 DOS announcement would not have led to immediate green card for most of us; but at least it would have ensured us interim benefits such as the right to travel and right to work- this was still a welcome change. Especially, for dependent spouses who have been otherwise unable to work, this would have translated into right to travel and work without restriction and thus channel their energies positively. Several dependent spouses are also highly-skilled. This would provide them an opportunity to realize their technical and entrepreneurial expression and add to tax dollars. Additionally, this would have greatly reduced the paperwork burden on our sponsoring US employers.

Tens of thousands of applicants spent thousands of dollars in legal fees, immigration medical exams & vaccinations & getting various supporting documents ready to file our immigrant petitions to USCIS, at times inconveniencing our old parents in our home countries as well. It has been an agonizing two weeks for us. Some of us to had to fly in our spouses from our home countries or have had to cut short business trips. To our shock and dismay, on the morning of July 2nd 2007, USCIS announced that EB visa numbers were not available and all petitions filed in July would be rejected.

For the legal skilled immigrants this has been a rather traumatizing and disheartening experience.

We sincerely seek immediate congressional/ legislative remedial measures which would
(1)Reduce the enormous backlogs of green card petitions of legal skilled immigrants
(2)Ensure and request USCIS not to reject our immigrant visa petitions filed in July and provide us interim benefits of a pending immigrant visa petition. We make this sincere request on this Independence Day with the hope that people who played by the rules will be rewarded.

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