Thursday, July 05, 2007

July 2007 Visa Bulletin: Talking Points



INTRODUCTION: Immigration Voice, a not-for-profit organization representing over half a million global professionals would like to request your attention on a recent issue at the Dept. of State and USCIS that have caused wide-spread concern among tens of thousands of TAX-PAYING, LEGAL, ENGLISH-SPEAKING, HIGHLY-SKILLED PROFESSIONALS such as Engineers, Scientists, Doctors, Teachers and Computer Professionals waiting to apply for the final stages of their employment-based Green Cards. These professionals have chosen the United States as their future home and have already been in the queue for their Green Cards in the United States, eagerly for several years.

ISSUE: On 13 June 2007, USCIS announced that, starting starting 02 July 07 and at least until 30 September 07, applicants waiting for several years could apply for "adjustment of status"(I-485), the final stage in the Employment-based Green Card process. "Adjustment of Status"(I-485) filing is NOT same as getting a Green Card right away, it just provides some coveted interim benefits while waiting for final decision on one's Green Card.

BENEFIT: I-485 filings would permit such applicants and dependent spouse to benefit from the right to work and the right to travel, thereby reducing the burden not only on the applicant but also on their US employers in terms of filing and legal fees as well as extensive paperwork and documentation. Additionally, after 180 days of filing the I-485, the applicant would be able to switch jobs in the same or similar category, providing opportunities for career progression.

PROBLEM: In an unexpected move, the USCIS and Department of State retracted their previous statements on 02 July 07 stating they would not accept any new I-485 applications until they were ready. Their new fiscal year starts 01 October 2007, and they have stated they will communicate when Green Card numbers become available after the new fiscal year starts.

ANALYSIS: This does not mean that they will accept Green Card applications starting 01 October 2007 for everyone. Certain countries such as China, India, Mexico and the Philippines will have to wait longer (could be for 2 years or more, beyond 01 October 2007) to just apply for highly-skilled Green Cards(I-485) because of oversubscriptions.

IMPACT:This has caused a tremendous setback to these LEGAL, highly-skilled applicants who are mostly from the above affected countries waiting patiently in linefor processing backlogs ("retrogression") to be lifted.

FINANCIAL IMPACT, LOST PRODUCTIVITY, BURDEN AND INCONVENIENCE CAUSED TO APPLICANTS AND U.S. BUSINESSES: Tens of thousands of highly-skilled Future Americans, along with their employers and attorneys spent over two weeks and on an average $3000 per family towards filing and attorney fees, medical tests & other unsalvageable direct and indirect costs to prepare and ship out application packages to the USCIS by July 2, 2007 start date. Several such applicants had to fly into the United States and cut short vacations and business trips in order to be able to file in time. Not to mention the rush to get medical examinations completed on time or lost productivity, as well as the frenzy to acquire key documentation from one's country of birth.
- Several families and their young children have had to undergo a lot of pain in complying with the July 2, 2007 start date.

IMMIGRATION VOICE COMMENDS CONGRESSWOMAN ZOE LOFGREN: Immigration Voice commends Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren's letters to Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Secretary, Department of State as well as to Michael Chertoff, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, and requests your assistance in asking that the State Department and USCIS honor the applications sent by LAW ABIDING, HIGHLY-SKILLED, applicants so that they are able to gain the right to work and right to travel for themselves and dependents.

OUR REQUEST: Immigration Voice requests that
a) the Department of State and USCIS honor the applications for employment-based I-485(adjustment of status) for highly-skilled professionals and those with advanced degrees or equivalent work experience , received during the month of July 2007, and
b) Extend interim benefits such as the right to work and right to travel (employment authorization document, advance parole) for eligible primary as well as derivative applicants.

Benefits for the United States Economy and United States Businesses
If a) and b) were to happen, the United States would be able realize the following benefits:
1) 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
2) This would greatly reduce the paperwork and workload for US businesses employing these applicants as well as the duplication of efforts by immigration attorneys.
3) Applicants have already undergone medical examinations, which are expected to be valid for a period of one year. Several have been administered with vaccines. Any administrative delays by the USCIS may require these applicants to retake these medical examinations at the risk of affecting their health due to adverse reactions as well as draining the limited resources of the US Healthcare system.

Immigration Voice requests an orderly and organized immigration system to help America maintain its competitive edge.


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