An Indian diaspora organization has asked the Biden administration to extend the benefit of five-year work permits to non-immigrant visa holders and their families to help Indian Americans stuck in decades-long green card backlog.
The move would also help in “retaining the competitive advantage of the United States,” the Foundation for India and India Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) wrote in a letter to Ur Jaddou, Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
“As per reports there are 1.1 million Indian-origin non-immigrant visa holders waiting for their priority date to become current so that they can apply for an I-485 for a green card,” the letter noted.
“Due to the country-wise limit of 7%, this restricts their annual approval, causing almost ~135 years of delays, and estimated that about 435,000 would not see permanent residency in their lifetime,” Khanderao Kand, FIIDS Chief of Policy and Strategies, wrote.
“Recognizing the imperative of retaining the competitive advantage of the United States, it is crucial to acknowledge the immense contributions these individuals and their families make to the nation’s economy, innovation, and diversity.”
“Furthermore, on humanitarian grounds, it is pertinent to avoid a situation where these individuals find themselves in a status akin to indentured laborers.”
- This delay, it said, has a number of side effects, including:
Impact on the industry: These highly skilled workers are unable to contribute to the industry outside of their current employer, which is a significant loss to the US economy.
- Impact on H4-EAD spouses: H4-EAD spouses are tied to the H1B status of their spouse, which makes the family’s stability uncertain especially during the high layoff and makes them financially insecure.
- Impact on documented dreamers: More than 200,000 children (called documented dreamers) are aged out of 21, becoming illegal status. Their contribution is important for retaining the US competitive advantage.
FIIDS urged USCIS to consider the following recommendations:
- For Employment-Based Applicants: Grant EAD to I-140 approved applicants for a duration of 5 years without necessitating waiting for I-485 processing.
- For Spouses of Applicants: like the announcement on 27th Sept, give 5 years auto-renewal EAD to H4EAD spouses to provide them the freedom from uncertainty and contribute independently.
- For Documented Dreamers: Allow H4-EAD and extend their visa coverage from 21 years to 25 years, providing them with a stable status until they can pursue their own immigration path.
“Implementing these changes would not only alleviate the immense pressure faced by these families but also fortify the United States as a nation that values and nurtures talent and diversity,” FIIDS wrote.
FIIDS requested the USCIS chief to consider its appeal “with utmost urgency, taking into account the human aspects of these prolonged immigration delays and the immense potential these individuals bring to American society.”