Dejected by the green card backlog, many Indians on work visas seek residency in an alternate country
New Jersey based Shweta Kumar has lived in the US with her husband for over seven years now. With her husband on an H-1B visa, and Shweta on an H-4 Visa, the Kumar family’s future has been anything but secure in the United States.
Shweta, shares with the American Bazaar, “Every year, brings along newer challenges. While a few years ago, I was struggling to get an employment authorization and then a suitable job on my H-4 visa, today we are looking at the possibility of having to go through family separation if our green cards do not come in time before our kids turn 21.”
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However, the Kumars like many Indians in the same boat have also been working on a “Plan B” given the immigration backlogs in the US. Shweta says, over a year ago, on the suggestion of a few friends also in the green card backlog they decided to apply for Australian permanent residency.
“This is a decision we did not take up lightly. We have visited Australia in the past, we saw the quality of life there and thought that if US can’t be our permanent home, we will definitely consider Australia,” She says.
While many Indians, like Shweta, are on their way or have already secured an Australian residency, they still hope that things open up for them in the US.
“We prefer to live in the US any day,” says Shweta. “It is more multicultural than Australia, the cost of living in Australia is much higher than in America and over all people are friendlier and more receptive to immigrants in the US, than in Australia but still if we can guarantee security for our kids we will have no other option.”
Shweta’s friend, Shree whom she met on an immigration Telegram group has also opted for a similar route. She says, “We applied for Australian residency. Since both my husband and I are young and have excellent tech credentials, all it took for our Australian residency to arrive was six months!”
“The program also gave us the liberty of deciding to come down to get settled in Australia over a period of three years, after which we would have to perhaps reapply for residency.”
“Admittedly while a couple years have passed since then, it was still reassuring to know that we had a backup plan,” says Shree.
Many Indians on work based visas in America, look at countries with friendlier immigration route such as Canada or Australia.
Most of these people have to hide their alternate plans from their employers and spend money consulting and applying for alternate residency, but as Shree says, “When you are on a visa in America, you have no option but to rise above and fend for your future.”
On why Australia is fast emerging as a popular destination for Indians seeking residency, Nirbhay Handa, of Henley & Partners, a citizenship planning firm says, “Australia is a magnet for tech talent.”
While the future-focused Australia’s prosperity, safety, and exceptional quality of life make it a highly sought-after location, what according to Handa may appeal to not just professionals but also investors is that one can acquire residence in nine to twelve months.
“One can do so via the Business Innovation and Investment Program by committing 2.5 million Australian dollars to an Australian investment fund, leading to permanent residence after three years.”
“Alternatively, for talented individuals the Global Talent Independent Program is a fast-track visa program with a streamlined path to permanent residence, with no age limit or investment prerequisite,” says Handa.