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Letter to President Obama & USCIS re: Green Card Processing Delays and Immigration Reform

Dear President Obama,

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter as I am sure you receive many. I am writing to you in hopes of promoting change to an issue that is close to my heart, and I believe close to yours as well.

As of November 2009, the current visa bulletins show a backlog of green card approvals all the way back to June 2002 for the employment-based third priority applications (EB3).

The effects of these delays are significant. EB3 consists of many young graduates such as myself, who graduated at the top of our class, who had to compete above and beyond the qualifications of regular graduates at every step of the way, who, like many former immigrants who came to America to seek a better life, are forced to make tough decisions in the face of these long waiting times. Some of us have been laid off, only to be given unrealistically short timeframes to find another job or go back to our home countries after decades of living abroad. Many of us simply wait in fear. Fear of the unknown and what might happen to us in the long years to come. In some ways, these restrictions stagnant those who foster ideas of entrepreneurship by preventing career change, growth and the risk-taking nature of American entrepreneurship that so evidently fuels the spirit and prosperity of this economy.

Intel, eBay, Yahoo!, Sun Microsystems, Google and many other companies were all founded by immigrants who were welcomed by America. Over the last 15 years, foreign nationals have started 25 percent of U.S. venture-backed public companies, accounting for more than $500 billion in market capitalization and adding significant value to our economy. There is a wealth of talent and ambition hidden below the covers of these immigration laws.

I arrived in Boston when I was 16 and I still remember the day I graduated (I was 20 and still couldn’t have a drink because it was illegal!) in 2004. Last month I turned 26, and I realized that I have been here for over a decade. This is the longest I have lived in any country since being on many diplomatic missions around the world with my father. When you were young, your family also lived overseas, so I know you can relate to what it feels like to have a “home country” and to have a desire to prosper and pursue happiness there.

You once said among a crowd of young students that “here in America, you write out own destiny, you make our own future” and I hope that this can one day come true when college graduates can have a realistic goal of becoming permanent residences if they work hard and believe in all that this country has to offer. When you came to Google in 2007 you told us that you would support the H1b program as well as more and faster permanent residents for those who add value to this country. Many of us here at Google as well as beyond the valley were very excited, and we remain hopeful today.

A lot of people laughed when I said that I would send you a letter. They expect me to give up. They expect that you to not read this letter. They will expect that even if you do, nothing will change.

I would like to prove them wrong. I hope that if anything, this letter will allow for a moment of consideration for actions that will speed up processing times for employment based immigration, of which many of us have already sacrificed so much for.

Sincerely,

Richard Wan

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