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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  Sept 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  Sept 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.

Cj

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Green Card Wait Times To Decrease For Indians & Chinese?

The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2011 was one of the very few bills in recent years that passed the House of Representatives branch of the US Congress in a bipartisan manner. With a vote of 389 – 15, the major focus of the bill is to remove the nationality caps of the Employment Based Visa Green Cards like the EB2 and EB3 Visas which are used most often by people who are currently working in the US on H1B visas, E3 Visas and L1 Visas to gain Permanent Residency in the US.

Currently there are about 140,000 EB Green Card Visas issued each year and only a maximum of 7% can be issued to any one nationality annually. What that has meant in practice for the EB2 and EB3 categories is that b/c of the sheer number of Indian and Chinese applicants in particular, that there is a large backlog of waiting lists of people working in the US in limbo not being able to move up or on in their jobs, passing up promotions and better offers, etc. waiting for their visa number in the queue to be called.

For the EB2 category it is about a 4-6 year wait for Indians and Chinese and in the EB3 category that goes up to 10 years and beyond. Of course if the nationality cap is removed then many citizens from other countries in both these categories who had jumped ahead in the queue b/c of these limits may have to wait a bit longer.

Sadly each year many of the 140,000 green card visas go to waste with people who have abandoned their application and returned home or moved elsewhere and b/c of the nature of the law these are wasted for good. If all the green card visas that had been wasted over the last few years had allowed to be reused (so not increasing any caps just using what was already authorized by the US Congress), then the entire current backlog for EB2 and EB3 would be removed for all nations. This actually has been done once before in the early 2000s but such a “radical” or more correctly logical move would seen to be too hard in today’s politically charged, cable news driven, extreme partisan US Immigration landscape.

The startling part of this so far is that it was able to pass with such overwhelming support from Conservative and Tea Party backed Republicans and Liberal and Most Left Leaning Democrats alike. The major premise is so that the US retains high skilled talent to help grow the economy and create jobs. According to Bloomberg, only 15% of visas are granted for economic reasons, a policy that undermines U.S. companies competing in a global talent pool.

Then foreign students studying in the US account for the majority of computer science and engineering doctorates earned from U.S. institutions. (In 2006, more than 4,500 foreign students earned engineering Ph.D.’s in the U.S., almost two-thirds of the total.) There is no policy or incentivized scheme to get them to stay in the U.S. after graduation given that these immigrants have a much higher propensity to create new businesses. We have mentioned before the Duke University study found that foreign immigrants helped found more than a quarter of the technology and engineering companies established in the U.S. between 1995 and 2005 (inc. Google, Yahoo, Paypal, etc.) so a huge amount of jobs and wealth for the US and her citizens.

However there is a roadblock!

One of our “favorite” politicians, Senator Charles (Chuck) Grassley, a Republican from Iowa placed a hold on the bill now it has reach the Senate. Even though it is expected to have broad support in the Upper House of the US Congress, it is now effectively in limbo due to the actions of one Senator for reasons that are not quite clear and that he has not fully expressed. Of course Iowa whose economy is still heavily influenced by Agriculture is not really a mecca for driving US innovation and wealth and nor is it a massive location for foreign highly skilled immigrants to reside, so really this bill would have very little effect if anything there.

However Senator Grassley seemingly unilaterally has put everything on hold possibly because of an earlier 2009 H1B and L1 Visa reform bill he put before Congress with Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois which thankfully has not gone anywhere as would be a major dent in the US economy.

We hope sanity prevails as it has in the House branch of the US Congress but I certainly would not be getting to excited as with the December – January Congress recess coming up and 2012 being a Presidential election year and where partisan politics is at its peak, anything getting done sometimes is a miracle.

Cj

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