Is Biden’s immigration bill a carrot dangled to retain H-1B, L-1 holders?


“At best, the immigration bill is just a hope, till it becomes a law.”

Experts have been keenly awaiting the comprehensive immigration bill that President Joe Biden unveiled earlier on Thursday. The bill delivers what Biden had promised to millions of immigrants in America during the campaign.

For those on employment-based visas, it was an important moment to watch out for as hints about revamping the temporary H-1B visa had been doing the rounds for some time now. Those who are on a long line for green card were also keenly hoping that the bill addresses their unfair wait.

While the bill added 30,000 employment-based visas increasing the total amount from 140,000 to 170,000, what would it actually bring on the table, for those either awaiting green cards or those still struggling to maintain their visa status every few years?

“I would put it frankly and say, such bills are just carrots to retain professionals in the US,” said immigration consultant Netra Chavan. “Authorities are well-aware of this and it seems that in the fear of losing hard working foreign employees with advanced knowledge, they make efforts of just releasing these bills with no quick-fix or results that would take it to the end.”

Chavan added, “At best, the immigration bill is just a hope, till it becomes a law.”

The sentiment may be shared by those awaiting the legal immigration reforms too.

READ: Waiting for the Wait to End: The human face of Indian immigrants caught in the Green Card backlog (December 4, 2018)

Pasadena, California, resident Nalin Nair is on an H-1B visa and has about 100 year wait before he can secure a green card. He has been planning to initiate paperwork to apply for a Canadian permanent residency ever since the Trump administration had taken office. When asked if with the coming of the bill, does he plan to defer his plans for the time being, Nair said, “I have been talking to immigration consultants who have warned me that even though the bill may be introduced, it does not mean that it will actually be passed into a law. There are serious concerns if the Biden administration actually has a sound strategy to pass it.”

Asked what he expects from the Biden immigration reform bill, he said, “With the change in administration, we hoped that per country cap will be removed and we would be able to truly call America our home.”

“How can you talk about immigration reform without addressing the legal immigration system that is currently working against some of the most skilled tax-paying, law-abiding residents?”

For most, it came as no surprise that Biden’s unveiling focused on undocumented immigrant reforms.

Bridgewater, NJ,- based Rachna Shah who is on a H-4 visa and lost her job during the pandemic said, “While we have nothing against reforming and providing provisions for undocumented immigrant, sometimes you can’t help but feel funny as the undocumented route to American citizenship can turn out to be faster than legal route to secure a green card.”

READ: Is the bill to end green card country caps, S.386, dead? (December 26, 2020)

Chavan said, “It’s a bitter irony that today in America, many on legal work visas wish they were undocumented, as that would at least bring the attention towards them. Many Americans, senators, law makers etc. are well aware how the immigration system affects the legal immigrant. It is sad that even after being in the country for decades or even through their 50’s they still have to maintain visa status.”

The president has also called for reforms for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and obtaining swifter legal status for agriculture workers under the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. Other important aspects that are likely to be part of the bill include the No Ban Act, which would prohibit visa discrimination during visa applications.

So is it really difficult to actually bring about changes in the legal immigration system?

As Chavan puts it:, “Is fixing legal immigration or making sensible decisions to help  high skilled individuals on work-based visas tough? The answer is “no.” Where there is a will, there is a way. But perhaps the will is lacking as more than 500,000 of high-skilled legal immigrants continue to live in uncertainty and never-ending cycle of visa maintenance.”


Sen. Mike Lee calls S.386 a good bill that needs to pass (February 21, 2020)

The newly passed H.R.1044 raises country caps for family-based green cards (July 10, 2019)

Trump talks about changes in H-1B Visa, including a possible citizenship (January 11, 2019)

Trump’s tweet on H-1B and path to citizenship evokes lukewarm response (January 12, 2019)

H-4 and H-1: Time for Indian immigrants to speak up on immigration policy, says author Amy Bhatt (January 5, 2019)

High-skilled Indian workers, DALCA kids, rally on Capitol Hill to clear green card backlog (June 15, 2018)

Reverse brain drain – the experience of three couples who moved back to India from the US (January 20, 2014)


One Comment

  1. Definitely getting rid of the Green Card back log is important. It is immoral to keep people tied to one employer.

    Getting rid of that backlog, and resulting indenturement, will put Americans on more of an even playing field with foreign workers. What else could have motivated Facebook (see the DOJ indictment of Facebook) to perjure itself 2600+ times (over just a 1.5 year period) in order to protect foreign workers from local competition in the Green Card process?

    We need diversity as well in out Green Card system.

    We also need to require employers to use whatever free web advertising is available to them. In the Facebook fraud case, Facebook said “no” to the San Francisco Chronicle’s free offer to place the print ads for the foreign workers undergoing the Green Card process, also on the Chronicle website. Facebook just had to say “yes” instead of “no” for that Free advertising. Facebook deliberately concealed these jobs, in order to protect foreign workers from local competition.

    Also we need a limit of 2 retries when applying for a Green Card. If after 2 tries, if a company cannot prove their is no local talent (Facebook admits it finds 30x more qualified STEM/IT candidates then it can hire, see the DOJ indictment), then the foreign worker should have a suitable timeout of a few years in order to learn new skills that are not in U.S. economy. After that timeout (of multiple years) they can retry for a spot in the Green Card wait cue.

    These changes are necessary, because the Facebook indictment (information gathered under penalty of a Felony obstruction of justice charge) shows us that companies are hiring foreign workers, protecting them from having to compete with local (and better qualified, see the DOJ indictment) workers, simply because they are stuck at the company forever until Green Card day. Not because these foreign workers are really needed in the U.S. economy.

    Again, Facebook (by its own admission to Federal investigators) finds 30x more, better qualified local STEM/IT candidates, than it can hire. But Facebook (by its own admission to Federal investigators) NEVER forwards the resumes of these better qualified candidates (better qualified than the foreign workers Facebook is protecting, and by Facebook’s own admission to Federal investigators) to the hiring managers in the Green Card Perm process. For fear that doing so will provide evidence that the Green Card process, undertaken by Facebook, is fraudulent.

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