‘Monster joke’: Biden’s new immigration policy a setback for H-1B reforms Indian-Americans sought

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Amid Biden-led government’s commitment to keep families together, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) declared steps to promote family unity in the immigration process.

Indian-Americans, most of whom are highly skilled and come to the US mainly on H-1B work visas, are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system which imposes a 7% per country quota on allotment of green cards or permanent legal residency.(AFP/File Photo)
Indian-Americans, most of whom are highly skilled and come to the US mainly on H-1B work visas, are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system which imposes a 7% per country quota on allotment of green cards or permanent legal residency.(AFP/File Photo)

Noncitizens, as per the current law, who marry Americans can petition for lawful permanent residency after their wedding with an American citizen. Unfortunately, many non-citizens are required to first leave the country and wait for the process to go ahead in order to apply for lawful permanent residency, causing long delays while separating them from their loved ones for a longer period.

The DHS has now decided to address the issue by creating a new procedure to evaluate pleas for certain noncitizen spouses of US citizens who have been residents for ten years or longer. The DHS will also review whether these noncitizens constitute ant threat to the national security of the US. These noncitizens will be qualified to apply for adjustment of status.

They would not be required to leave the country in order to petition for lawful permanent residence. According to DHS estimates, 500,000 noncitizen spouses of citizens of the United States, who have lived in the US for over 23 year, may be eligible to employ this procedure.

In order apply for the process, these non-citizens are required to stay in the US without parole or admission, continuously present in the US for minimum 10 years as of June 17, 2024, and have a legally recognised marriage to US citizen as of June 17, 2024.

Also Read: HT Exclusive: Indian American visa podcaster shares H-1B visa hacks to extend stay in US

Some other actions taken by DHS

The DHS will collaborate to expedite the processing of specific employment-based nonimmigrant visas for qualified individuals, such as recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and undocumented noncitizens who have completed their higher education at an authorised US institution. The State Department’s strategy will boost companies’ confidence in their ability to hire the necessary talent and expedite their time to work by streamlining and improving the current procedure.

Is it a setback for H1-B reforms Indian-Americans wanted?

US companies can hire foreign workers for specialised jobs, particularly those requiring academic or technical expertise, thanks to the non-immigrant H-1B visa program.

IT companies in the United States hire workers from China and India under the H-1B visa.

The majority of Indian-Americans are highly skilled and enter the US primarily on H-1B work visas. They are most severely affected by the existing immigration system, which sets a 7% cap on the number of green cards or permanent legal residency awarded to each country.

The US government issues 85,000 H-1 B work licenses annually, of which 65,000 are granted to individuals in specialty occupations and 20,000 to foreign workers who have completed a master’s degree or higher in the US. A significant portion of the H-1B work licenses that are granted annually are given to Indian citizens and their businesses. However, the new new immigration policy can impact the Indian-Americans the most.

Reacting to the new immigration policy, Anuj, who has been spreading awareness on discrimination against high-skilled workers based on their birth nation, stated that the recent changes announced by DHS “doesn’t have anything for legal skilled workers stuck in never ending backlog”. He claimed that it will rather make things “worse” for them.

Calling the employment-based green card allocation is “a zero-sum game”, he said: “I hope everyone in never ending #greencardbacklog because of the discriminatory country caps realize that anytime admin decreases the qualifying criteria, instead of providing relief/solution to folks who have already been approved and waiting, means it would be even easier for folks to jump the line based on where they are born while wait time for already approved worker increases.”

Under the new process, he said many undocumented people residing in the US will be eligible for H1B. “Good for them! But what it means that they will eventually qualify for EB visas as well and jump the line based on were they are born.”

“If you are born in India, your wait time will continue increasing,” he added.

Anuj further explained that the chances of winning H1B lottery will decrease. “If you are ROW born, you can can get EB visa in 1-3 years and skip H1B but if you are born in India and don’t get H1B, I guess your best option would be to self deport.”

Commenting on his post, Congresswoman Deborah Ross wrote: “This #ImmigrantHeritageMonth, I’m calling on the Biden administration to take action & protect Documented Dreamers.”

“America has always been a nation of immigrants. That’s why I’m proud to fight to ensure Documented Dreamers can stay in the country they call home.”

Blasting Biden, another X user said, “It’s actually really absurd and jaded that a Democratic president has once again overtly decided to make unlawful presence a requirement for being eligible for administrative relief.”

“People who complied with all the terms and conditions of their visas are still forced to self deport despite growing up in America. The lefty groups who pushed Biden to do this don’t want to help lawfully present dependents. It’s perverse.”


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