Tired of green card backlog, Indian doctor returns home for good

Green card

Pranav Singh, a critical care physician, chose to return after living in the US for 15 years.

Last year as the pandemic was raging across the US and most people in America were stocking up on essentials, the Singh family in Mason City, Iowa, was having a difficult and life-changing experience.

Dr. Pranav Singh, a critical care physician, after having lived in the US for 15 long years, decided to move back to India with his family.

For a physician who arrived in the US way back in 2006, did his residency and fellowship in New York before moving to Mason City as a critical care doctor and calling it home for over a decade, this move must have felt excruciating.

“My green card priority date is December 2013. I have a daughter who is 16 and is an Indian citizen,” Dr. Singh tells the American Bazaar on phone from his new home in Delhi, India.

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

“I was frustrated by the green card backlog, which is a life of indentured servitude. My daughter risks aging out.”

Dependent children of H-1B visa holders age out of the green card process as soon as they turn 21 and this remains a tough choice for millions of families awaiting their green cards.

On the aging out process, Dr. Singh explains, “if my daughter ages out, she has to self deport to India. Then she has to get an F-1 visa to re-enter the US. She will be at the mercy of the visa officer after living in the US all her life.

“In order to apply for a US visa she has to prove that she has no intent to immigrate. How is she going to do that? We will be happy to send her to any country for her studies but it will never be the US.”

READ: 80,000 Indian children in green card backlog risk aging out (November 30, 2020)

“Furthermore the travel ban affected the backlogged immigrants the most. There is no political will to fix the problem. That’s why I left the country in the middle of the pandemic,” he adds.

Dr. Singh now plans to live permanently in India. While the family is glad that they took this decision, the move hasn’t been easy as they had to undergo family separation.

“My daughter is still in the US with my wife. She has to finish her 10th grade in the US or she will lose a year if she comes back now,” he says.

Asked whether it has been particularly tough for his daughter, who has lived all her life in the US, Dr. Singh says, “My daughter understands that a life of freedom is much better than perpetual slavery.”

Since relocating to India, Dr. Singh has found a new job with a telemedicine company and is happy to reshape his career in India.

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

When the Singhs moved to the United States, they did not foresee this future. Dr. Singh says, “When I first came to America, the backlog wasn’t heard of and I intended to study and settle in the US and bring my parents.

“If I was from any other country, I would have been a citizen by now. But here I was still renewing my H-1B every three years and living a life of zero safety net.”

The way things were going in immigration, the Singhs would have had to wait another 10 years to get the US green card or permanent residency.

For many in the same boat as Dr. Singh, the “American Dream” has proved to be an unattainable goal many Indians run after.

“I just feel that my life in the US was a waste of time and energy. I would not advise any friend or family to immigrate to a blatantly racist country,” he says.

READ: Is Indians’ Green Card backlog limbo about to end? (December 3, 2020)

While the Singhs had been re-considering their decision to stay in the US, the pandemic seemed to serve as the last straw.

“Covid-19 and the uncertainties it brought along was an eyeopener,” Dr. Singh says. “I came to a point where I realized that while I am taking care of these patients putting my life at risk, if something were to happen to me, my wife and daughter would lose their visa status and will have to self-deport.

“As aliens we do not have any safety-net. We paid millions in taxes over the years and we are not eligible for social security. Country caps in employment based immigration are akin to India exclusion act, and is no different than apartheid.”

READ MORE:

Green card backlog community seeks inclusion in reconciliation package (August 26, 2021)

Indian American health workers protest green card backlog (March 18, 2021)

Is Indians’ Green Card backlog limbo about to end? (December 3, 2020)

Hundreds of Coronavirus fighting Indian doctors stuck in green card backlog (March 18, 2020)

The newly passed H.R.1044 raises 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)

 

7 Comments

  1. Not sure why is this even news. When on H1B visa (temporary) visa, you know that you may or may not get to stay in US for ever. Nothing in life is a 100% guarantee for anyone. All try to get the best they want and if they get what they want, well and good otherwise try something else.

  2. Ghandi Bapoo (US ciitzen)

    Good riddance behnchodd!!! No geen card = racists countru!! We docters from Desh like come too Amerika, make monney in $$$ hundres MILLION dolars. Cut up peopls, dally drugs, pill mill, DESHI docotr in high DEMAN . Plus bahu gives DOWRY to us in deshland … ha ha very very rich no!! We doctores like rich, drive SUV live like kingpin, big houses, servant!! Ya, give us gren CARD NOW, we demand. Wanna work hard, make more $$ it. YOU must.

  3. Graduated and worked in US from last 16 years and after paid several thousands of dollars as taxes. We have a home, friends and Kids born in the US because we spent our major part of our life in the US. Due to GC backlog, I am completely uncertain to start treatment for my special kid, who is a US Citizen. I want to quit my job and take care of child in US for 2-3 years. I can’t do that because I am on H1-B. So, I decided to quit US and be with my special kid.

    Immigration is a blatant political game in the US. Neither the Senators nor the Congressman have the real interest or concern to fix the broken immigration system. In fact, together they ruin our lives with their manipulative statements from several years.

    • As a father, your responsibility is to take care of your daughter and glad you are doing that. I am not sure why getting a Green card even comes into the picture. H1B was always a temporary visa and so needs to be treated so if you are in one.

  4. Not a bad move. If you are from India, you can’t green card. That is the law.

  5. Aged out students don’t have to self deport, they can transfer to F1 without leaving the country.

  6. Good move. More to follow including myself.

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