Saturday, July 07, 2007

IV Member in the News

“English-speaking, legal, highly-skilled professionals face indefinite delays on the path to permanent residence (Green Cards), while the current focus is on undocumented immigrants", says Murtuza Bahrainwala.

Bahrainwala's not a computer engineer, but a physician, and is among the half-a-million highly-skilled applicants waiting in line for Green Cards for the past several years. Of all the people coming in annually, only 14% are highly-skilled applicants, however, processing backlogs and arcane country quotas impose significant restrictions on these educated future Americans. Professionals from fields as diverse as medicine, management, banking, aeronautics, finance, education and biomedical research face delays of up to a decade or more before they are able to get their Green Cards which are employment-category based. A Green Card provides several benefits- the ability to pursue career interests, create employment opportunities in the community, and affirm personal commitments

Additionally, processing delays are requiring all highly-skilled professionals, including physicians to wait for extended periods of time even if one has already applied for the final stage, I-485, or "adjustment of status". While the Senate’s proposed reform, which failed last month to gain traction, would grant exemption from the country quota and provides massive supplemental quotas for Z-visa holders, it failed to consider anything similar for highly-skilled future Americans.

This unequal treatment troubles Dr. Murtuza Bahrainwala, a specialist in Internal Medicine and Industrial Medicine who counsels employees of a leading industrial firm on occupational hazards and work safety in the underserved area of Decatur, IL. His Green Card application is stuck in processing backlogs. Meanwhile, Dr. Bahrainwala's wife, trained in the fine arts, waits to resume her career and worries about eroding skills. Going back to graduate school is prohibitive as a large number of states restrict such professionals and their families from availing instate tuition benefits while their Green Cards are pending, despite meeting all other criteria.

Such skilled professionals continue to wait for immigration reform as they postpone key decisions that affect quality of life.

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