Tag Archives: green card waiting times

US Immigration Reform: Why The Future is Bleak for Foreigners (and ultimately all Americans)

We often get asked here why things never seem to change in terms of US Immigration Reform and thus why we continue to have situations like;

– High Skilled Immigrants waiting for over 10 years in Waiting Lists to get their Green Card
Foreigners forced to stay in same jobs and forgo promotions, new jobs, help innovation and pay increases for 10+ years (and thus allowing critics to say foreigners are depressing wages)
– Companies like Microsoft are forced to open their R&D innovation center across the border in Canada where the skilled immigration laws are logical (therefore lost tax revenue for the US and less US jobs)
52% of Silicon Valley Companies have at least one immigrant co-founder employing hundreds of thousands of Americans and contribute billions of tax dollars to all Americans (inc. Google, Intel, Facebook, Yahoo, eBay, Paypal, etc.) yet we are forcing these companies to now base themselves overseas
– 84% of the Green Cards issues each year are for family and diversity reasons with only 16% awarded to high skilled talent (this compares poorly with countries like Canada, Australia, etc. where most permanent residents are high skilled talent)
– Thousands of dollars, long application processing periods and illogical visa criteria mean that foreigners constantly live in a state of fear in US
Illegal Immigration continue to remain an issue with no practical solution ever proposed and implemented and thus the issue of Legal Immigration continues to be pushed back

Vivek Wadhwa, who we often reference here has written a piece for the Washington Post about by Americans are so afraid of Immigrants. The reality is that this anti Immigrant sentiment in the US has existed throughout its history, it is just that the target group has changed. The Irish, Africans, Germans, Italians, Russians, Japanese and Jews were all big targets in days gone by for harsh treatment, bad feeling and sometimes actual law prohibiting them doing things. Today it is the Indians & Chinese that largely feel the brunt of anti immigrant sentiment on the legal side and Mexicans on the illegal side.

If you read Mr Wadhwa’s column and the comments underneath as well as watch the video there you will realize why this issue has no end in sight despite what President Obama and Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney may say in this Presidential year. Public sentiment in the US in this bad economic period regarding Immigration is low on both sides. There are loud anti-immigrant voices on both sides. On one hand on the right just so myopically focussed on building fence on the southern border and deporting any illegal in site. Then on the left unions and other workers blaming immigrants for their own bleak economic predicaments rather than the American politicians, American CEOs of bankrupt, bailed out and major layoff companies and the wider American populace for running up huge debt.

From a politicians perspective, Immigrants are never a constituency they have to worry too much about because they can’t vote. Generally it is half measure like President Obama’s recent directive to de-prioritize deportation of low risk illegal immigrants (i.e. children) to appeal to the large Latino populace in the country who are often friends and family of these illegal immigrants particularly in important swing states like Florida, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado. There were 400,000 immigrants deported in 2011, mainly of Hispanic descent and this was clearly a politically motivated decision in terms of timing in an election year.

Because of the medium term benefit of having a pro skilled immigration policy being years in advance (i.e. Sergei Brin studies for 4 years at Stamford, co-founds Google in 1996 which goes public in 2004) not fitting into with the 2-6 year cycle of electing Congressmen, Senators and Presidents, the political will is also low.

While it is the Immigrants who pay the initial price for the status quo and Immigration reform inaction, it is ultimately all Americans that will feel the  brunt of the terrible policies of today. However if you are an Immigrant in the US today continue to persevere in your dream to live in the US regardless of the tough journey that lays ahead. Know that there are thousands of people going through exactly what you are experiencing, having the same questions and fears and enduring the same frustrations and anger that you have each day.

There is small pockets of movements in more modern companies looking at a more egalitarian approach to employment and actively learning more about foreign immigration rules. Hopefully more of these companies and leaders become the giants of tomorrow and are able to effect change. Although Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are huge advocates of much greater foreign immigration for prosperity in the US and even their considerable power and influence hasn’t changed much.

Cj

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Obama’s State of the Union & US Immigration Reform

After President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address on Wednesday January 27, 2010 to both Houses of Congress and his reiteration of lofty goals mentioned during his Presidential campaign trail, the questions remains as to what it means for immigration reform in 2010.

Well the fact that he barely mention Immigration in the speech at all suggests that as we mentioned in our US Immigration Reform 2010 expectations post above as well as our US Immigration Predictions for 2010, that not to expect much at all is a safe bet.

After the recent Massachusetts Senate Race long and the fact that Midterm elections are due in November 2010, where all members of the House and about one third of the Senate will be up for re-election, it has become imperative of the Obama administration to more largely focus of populist parts of his agenda. This is so he can continue to appeal to Independents who largely supported him during his Presidential Election Campaign but deserted the Democratic Party in the recent Massachusetts Senate Race.

So it is clear that the Economy and Jobs will take the focus for the large part of the first half of 2010 as well as attempts to salvage some form of Healthcare reform which was very close to passing but now with the new makeup of the US Senate is under threat.

US Immigration reform is not a populist topic as there is not a broad coallition that agrees on most topics of reform. Then due to the general economic conditions and the millions of US citizens who have been laid off and are still unable to find permanent work, the pool of people who could possibly support a pro Immigration agenda is even smaller than in better times.

Therefore even if US Immigration gets debated in any meaningful way and some sort of bill passes, it may have a few benefits for the current US immigrant on a US visa but is sure to have many downsides as well. As it will definitely need a broad coalition of Republican and Democrats from a broad spectrum of the country to successfully navigate both Houses of Congress and land at Obama’s desk for him to sign.

Already Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, worried about the re-election of her party members in the House this year has stated she wants to limit the amount of controversial legislation that is debated and that is all hesitant to do more when so many bills that her chamber has passed is still stuck in the US Senate.

All in all if there is any beneficial US Immigration reform in 2010, it will may be in less controversial areas like improving Green Card Waiting Times for current applicants generally applying to the EB2 visa or EB3 visa status from visas like the H1B visa, L1 visa and E3 visa.

This is a low risk area as it is viewed as highly skilled immigrants, already in the country for a longer period of time and thus both beneficial to the US economy and low risk from a National Security perspective in that they are and have been law abiding residents. These are probably the 2 most polarizing areas of the US Immigration debate within the US as these are the constant arguments brought up any type of US Immigration reform is mentioned. These are the areas opportunistic politicians like Senators Dick Durbin (Il) and Chuck Grassley (IA) and celebrity media pundits play upon on cable news.

However things will be unlikely to improve based on the current environment include;
– any increase to the current main H1B visa quota of 65,000
– any form of amnesty for Illegal Immigrants
– approval for borderline cases of refugee or political asylum
– fairness in the tax and social security laws as it applies to Immigrants
– improvement of waiting times in US visa processing and 221(g) Administrative Processing
– responsiveness to hearing of complaints and grievances filed regarding employer abuses in workplaces of people on non-immigrant visas

Unfortunately this is not a great way to start the year with a pessimistic outlook for positive US Immigration changes and real reform in 2010 after people have been promised so much in the past, and not for the first time either! It is looking increasing like depending on the legislative successes and failures in other areas this year, the overall state of the economy and the unemployment rate and finally the results of the Midterm elections in November will probably have a larger bearing on whether real US Immigration reform may be possible in 2011.

CJ

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