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Legal Immigrants Long Long Wait For A Green Card

The NY Times recently wrote a piece talking about the struggles of the Legal Immigrant and how they feel that throughout the whole current Immigration reform debate they feel that they are the forgotten figures of the whole debate yet the most deserving of consideration in the reform. This is because collectively this a group of hundreds of thousands of people who;

  • Have faithfully followed all the US Immigration rules from prior to entering the country to obeying all laws while present in the US
  • Skew to be highly educated and thus already (and in the future) contribute most to the US overall economic prosperity benefiting all
  • Have endured already paying thousands of dollars already in US Government fees, legal fees, general compliance and travel fees to ensure their visa status remains current
  • Many have been educated in US higher education institutions so largely a full fee paying students with a top quality education particularly in the much sought after STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) professions
  • Have faithfully paid all their IRS and other tax obligations even though as a group they don’t benefit from many of the taxes they have to pay like Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, etc.
  • Have endured separation from family members, missed weddings/funerals/etc., lived in locations that are not their first preference just so they can comply with all laws and hopefully at some stage obtain a Green Card
  • Passed up promotions, raises and better job opportunities at other other companies offered to them in the US because to do so would mean to lose their place in the long wait lines for Permanent Residency
  • Have had to have every aspect of the life scrutinized from every home move they make, to every travel entry, job transfer, marriage, private medical information, etc., to ensure constant compliance with the system
  • Not fought cases of a legal nature against them when they have been in the right (i.e. traffic, workplace complaints, rental disputes) for fear that any issue might appear on a permanent record jeopardizing their ability to continue in the Immigration process
  • For the high skilled and employed watched people jump the queue in front of them b/c of things like sham marriages, phoney asylum claims, the green card lottery
  • If from India, China, Mexico and the Philippines in particular seen their wait times stretch to 15 years and more just to move along in the process and having to keep their life on hold
  • Watch President Obama and others before him continue to give preference to Illegal Immigrants plight over their own just because of the political benefits of pursuing that action (ultimately both causes need to be addressed but the legal immigrants are usually ignored)

The full list would go on and on because the US has a system currently where only 7% of all the Green Cards issue annually (abt 140,000) go to the skilled employees which compares very unfavourably with other 1st world western nations and thus is detrimental to the US economy as a whole. So many of the major technology and other companies that sponsor Green Cards and companies that sponsor H-1B, E-3 and other work visas have been screaming for years for increases to quotas and changes to Immigration system and is hurting their ability to innovate and detrimentally effecting them vs. foreign competition.

We even a couple of years ago had an avid reader so frustrated with they system he wrote a letter to President Obama which he published as an open letter here expressing his frustration of the multi-year delays he and many people he know faces and how it leaves them leading a compromised life for years all in the vein hope that something might change.

Ultimately this is not a case of pitting legal immigrants vs. illegal immigrants plight or the folks hoping to benefit from the Dream Act, it is a plea for those in Congress and the Media and the President to stop focusing on the political point scoring with Paths to Citizenship for Illegals, Border Fence Issues, Demonizing Hispanics and focus on a group that is always ignored in public arguments. If any group deserves some focus and reform it is this group.

There is a lot to fix in US Immigration as we have identified before, however if you as person can imagine being stuck in the same job, with the same title, with the same pay, in the same city, separated from your family and friends, being forced to pay thousands of dollars continually, undergo invasive medical tests, have any marriage scrutinized, undergo repeated biometric tests, wait in constant hour long queues at consulates, having any move of apartment monitored and all the while still pursuing the dream of residency in the US, then you may have some more sympathy too.


Green Card Visa Bulletin June 2013 Update

The US Department of State recently published their June 2013 Visa Bulletin which tells people whether they are eligible to continue their process for a Green Card. This is essentially the monthly announcement that so many wait for because it may spell the beginning of a 5-10 year wait or more for the chance to continue their Permanent Residency quest in the US. The wait times in particular for Indian and Chinese foreigners is crazy and is a direct result of the illogical nature of how the current US Immigration laws are written.

This is a quest that ultimately has cost them career growth, salary growth, the ability to be flexible with themselves and their family, left them unable to move and even caused a guest blogger on this site to pen a letter to President Obama pleading for action on this green card issue for both the Immigrants who are legal and hurting as well as for the benefit of the US Economy at large. The current proposed US Immigration Reform seeks to address this to some degree but the reality is either may not pass, may be amended so it doesn’t help situation or more likely cause new issues with the backlog.

The main updates in the bulletin are;

EB-1 Permanent Residency Visa (Extraordinary Ability Professionals & Individuals)

  • EB-1 remains current for all applicants

EB-2 Permanent Residency Visa (High Skill, Advanced Degree & Senior Experienced Professionals)

  • EB-2 remains current for all applicants except Indian and Chinese
  • EB-2 priority date for Indians remained at Sept 1, 2004
  • EB-2 priority date for Chinese went from May 15, 2008 to July 15, 2008

EB- 3 Permanent Residency Visa (Skilled Professionals with Bachelors Degree or Equivalent Work Experience)

  • EB-3 (Skilled Workers) priority date for Indians advanced from Dec 22, 2002 to Jan 8, 2003
  • EB-3 (Skilled Workers) priority date for Chinese advanced from Dec 1, 2007 to Sept 1, 2008
  • EB-3 (Skilled Workers) priority date for Filipinos advanced from Sept 15, 2006 to ┬áSept 22, 2006
  • EB-3 (Skilled Workers) priority date for all other countries advanced from Dec 1, 2007 to Sep 1, 2008
  • EB-3 (Other Workers) priority date for Indians advanced from Dec 22, 2002 to Jan 8, 2003
  • EB-3 (Other Workers) priority date for Chinese advanced from Sept 1, 2003 to Oct 22, 2003
  • EB-3 (Other Workers) priority date for Filipinos advanced from Sept 15, 2006 to ┬áSept 22, 2006
  • EB-3 (Other Workers) priority date for all other countries advanced from Dec 1, 2007 to Sep 1, 2008

EB-4 Permanent Residency Visa (Religious Workers)

  • EB-4 remains current for all applicants

EB- 5 Permanent Residency Visa (Investment Visa)

  • EB-5 remains current for all applicants

One final point I will leave you all with if you are an Indian foreign professional who has been working in the US since as late as October 1, 2001 (given to do a green application process takes about a year) and then had their Green Card Application approved in Jan 2003 has reached an important milestone. After 10.5 years, no promotions at work, thus no career growth, little salary increase and the same company they can finally continue their Green Card process to the medical test and interview stage and final few months to hopefully officially becoming a permanent resident in the US. When they were originally approved and now waited 10.5 years, George W Bush had only finished 2 years of his presidency, the Iraq war was 2 months from starting, Windows XP was the latest operating system, there was essentially no such thing as a proper Smartphone, Facebook was a year away from commencing and Finding Nemo was a top movie of the year.