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American Dream Suspended on the Eve of July Fourth for Several Thousand Legal Green Card aspirants
Tens of thousands of legal, English-speaking, highly-skilled Future Americans miss rare opportunity to apply for green cards after US immigration agencies announced on July 2, 2007 that no further applications would be accepted until October.
By: Immigration Voice
Patience is not just a virtue, but a way of life for thousands of Legal immigrants who have been living in the US for a number of years. Besides the everyday stress of a job, health and education of their children, they live with the added suspense of when their application for permanent residency, commonly referred as "Green card" will move ahead from its deep slumber.
To apply for an employment based "Green Card", a skilled professional's employer must comply with the Dept. of State/Dept. of Labor and USCIS requirements to process the Green Card. The date the USCIS or Dept. of Labor receives the application is referred to as the "Priority Date". The Dept. of State controls the availability of "Green Cards", or as they're called "Immigrant Visas". Availability is published monthly by the Dept. of State based on which the USCIS grants Green Cards to approved applicants. Hopes and Spirits of applicants and their families run high when just a few Green Cards become available every month.
The Year 2005 saw a negative trend called "retrogression of green cards" already in line, causing processing dates to move back instead of moving ahead. This translated into at least a 2 year wait for certain oversubscribed countries like India, China, Mexico and the Philippines. Dates moved at snail's pace, but then, all eyes turned towards the Senate and the House hoping they would mediate and provide respite to this broken situation. Highly-skilled professionals-
The CIR died, and in mid-June 2007, the Dept. of State released its monthly bulletin announcing that it will start accepting applications for "Adjustment of Status" for all employment based applicants and their dependents. The "Adjustment of Status" stage, often just called I-485 due to the name of the application form, is the much sought after final stage of the Green Card process for highly-skilled applicants with advanced degrees or relevant, equivalent industry experience. This was like manna from heaven for several eager applicants waiting in line. From then on it was a scramble to fulfill a long list of requirements to be able to apply on time.
Kanika Mahna, mother of three, from Maine says "In my case- The first task was for my husband to convince his HR to re-initiate the process. Since they had already budgeted for the fiscal year and are currently on a spending freeze, it took a lot of convincing that this would be a one-time opportunity in a long time, not to be missed. HR complied and gratefully, we set out to get our medical exams (at our own cost of over USD 300). Since we live in a small state with few doctors, we drove for over 2 hours to a neighboring state to get our medicals done on time. Being a mother of 3 small kids, I could not work on important paper work with my kids around during the day. After putting them to bed, we spent the entire night pulling out all required documents from archives, organizing them and placing numerous phone calls to my aged parents back in India to complete the biometric questionnaires. Not to mention the legal expenses my husband’s employer had to incur during this process. We're fortunate that his employer bore all these expenses, which can amount to around USD 3000 on an average for a family of two."
She adds "On one hand, we were jubilant- on the other, we were in a crunch for time. I got my passport pictures (USD 60) and mailed it all to our lawyers praying it will be one of the first to reach the department office on start of business on 07/02.Little did we realize that this would be overturned by the events of 07/02. The 07/02 revision to the July visa bulletin stated that they will not accept any applications as they had already allocated all the visas for the current fiscal year in an unprecedented action. "
This has left thousand of families like Mahna's confused, saddened and in the middle of nowhere- which is already being termed Visa Bulletin Gate. Mahna and her husband are members of Immigration Voice, a group representing thousands of highly-skilled, English-speaking, future Americans which strives for employment-based immigration reform.
"We are raising families here, our everyday life is no different from any other AMERICAN middle-class family with same aspirations and hopes- in pursuit of the great American dream, so it is not easy to presume that we can pull out or get out of this situation and return to our home countries. We still have faith in the constitution and the spirit of this country. We have played by the rules and we continue to preserve faith that this oversight will be reversed and we will get the opportunity to achieve what we have waited for years, being law abiding individuals and fulfilling all requirements to the tee. On the eve of America's independence, we request that justice prevail and urge Congress, the State Department and the USCIS to reverse this decision", she says.
Aman Kapoor, President of Immigration Voice reports that his website has had over 3500 members logged on, during the morning of 07/02 alone. Kapoor quoted a recent article in FORBES written by Vivek Wadhwa, published in collaboration with the Wharton Business School, and said that Immigrant-founded companies accounted for a large portion of the total in the key technology centers, including Silicon Valley (52%), New York City (44%) and Chicago (36%), according to the research. Immigrant founders scored the lowest in other technology clusters like Portland, Ore., (18%), Research Triangle Park (19%) and Denver (19%). The study also included a survey of 28,000 companies which reported that immigrants were key founders in more than a quarter of all the engineering and technology companies set up in the U.S. between 1995 and 2005.The researchers say the "startling statistics" they have put together show that the U.S. economy depends upon the high rates of entrepreneurship and education among immigrants to "maintain its global edge.
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Immigration Voice is a not-for-profit organization representing the interests of over half-a-million legal, English-speaking, highly-skilled Future Americans, and advocates comprehensive reform in the US immigration system. The group has grown to over 14,500 members since its inception in December 2005.