Let Your Voice Be Heard: NOW is the Time to Contact Congress on Immigration
DACA in limbo
For now, DACA has not been fixed. Last Thursday, four immigration bills were introduced in Congress, and all four failed to pass. President Trump revoked the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) in September 2017, which provided amnesty to certain undocumented immigrations who came to the U.S. as children. At that time, he gave Congress a deadline of March 5th to come up with a legislative fix. With no solution in sight, over 700,000 young immigrants, known as “Dreamers”, could come under the immediate threat of deportation. However, federal courts in New York and California have ruled that the Trump Administration cannot rescind DACA, leaving the fate of DACA in limbo.
Another government shutdown?
A short-term spending bill and budget deal passed early February, funding the government through March 22nd. This provides a short time for Congress to write a long-term spending bill that would fund the federal government for the remainder of the 2018 fiscal year. If an agreement cannot be reached, it looks like we’re in for another government shutdown at that time.
Per-country limits on employment-based green cards need a fix
The U.S. has many highly-skilled workers from around the world who contribute their knowledge and talent to our U.S. companies, pay taxes, and contribute to our economy and local communities. However, many of them face uncertainty in the green card process. One reason for this is because of the “per-country limit” applied to green cards. This means that immigrants from any single country cannot receive more than 7% of the 140,000 employment-based green cards available each year. Immigrants from large countries like India and China, where most of our talented and highly-skilled IT professionals are coming from, have the same maximum number of green card allotments each year as countries with smaller populations. This is burdensome because these highly skilled workers worry about events that could impact their green card process. In addition, spouses are usually unable to work, and children who hit the age of 21 could be forced to return to a county they’ve never known. This uncertainty takes a toll on our nation’s talented and skilled workers.
What can you do?
The expectation is that the spending bill discussed above will be linked to another immigration bill. Because of this, there is the possibility that an immigration bill will be addressed soon. We must call on Congress to do everything in its power to protect Dreamers, highly skilled H-1B workers, and those waiting in the green card backlog alike. It is time for Congress to make meaningful changes. NOW is this time for you to contact Congress so that your voice is heard.
Please send an email to your Senator or State Representative using the draft letter below (make sure to personalize your letter). To find your elected official and his or her contact information, please visit the following link: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.
The Honorable ________
United States House of Representatives/United State Senate
City, State, Zip
Dear Representative/Senator ______________:
I am writing to request your support for changes to current immigration policy that could benefit not only the U.S. technology community but the U.S. economy as a whole. I hope that by bringing the following issues to your attention, I can instigate positive change for the thousands of immigrants who face the same predicament.
My name is [name] and I am a [job title]. I have been living and working in the United States pursuant to a temporary work visa since [date]. My work in the field of ___________helps [describe the importance of your work to the US economy or society]. I have a [master’s, bachelor’s] degree in [field of study]. I began my journey towards lawful permanent residence in [year of priority date]. I remain hopeful that I might finally achieve my goal of permanent residence in this country, but the per country numerical limitation for employment-based immigrants keeps me stuck in limbo simply because of where I was born. Based on the statistics available, it is expected that I will have to wait for _____ [number of years] years for a green card to become available because I was born in [country of birth]. In contrast, an individual with the exact same education and job offer from almost any other country does not have any wait at all.
I am one of many highly qualified and exceptionally experienced IT professionals on H-1B visas who have contributed significantly to the U.S. technology sector. Because of our current immigration system, hundreds of thousands of highly-skilled workers are stuck in a green card backlog, hindering our professional development and contribution to the U.S.’s economic growth. The technology sector in America is producing jobs faster than they can be filled. According to New American Economy, in 2016 there were 3.3 million STEM jobs posted online. The World Economic Forum reported that in that very same year, only 568,000 students with STEM degrees graduated from U.S. universities. At this time it is crucial that U.S. employers are able to recruit and retain highly-skilled workers from American universities and abroad. It is imperative that we invest in the U.S.’s future competitiveness by providing skilled foreign students and professionals with the opportunity to remain here and apply their skills and knowledge to our growing economy.
Despite my well-established and pivotal role in the information technology sector, my immigration status is mired in regulatory and administrative obstacles. A crucial issue is that H-1B workers depend financially on the granting of work permits for their dependent spouses. Some H-1B spouses currently have employment authorization, but proposed regulation threatens to revoke even these work permits. Since my spouse is here as my dependent, s/he is not able to work until I either obtain an approved I-140 or surpass 6 years under my H-1B visa and begin the green card application process, which could take many years. Many H-1B holders have financially dependent spouses; however, within our profession, this causes especially severe economic hardship. Though I am a hard-working taxpayer, my children are not eligible for scholarships that could alleviate this financial burden, no matter how accomplished they are academically, as they are not green card holders or citizens.
Several bills have been introduced before Congress that could affect the future of H-1B workers in the U.S. Relatedly, the considerable backlog of green card applications is at the root of the congested immigration system, forcing workers to remain in the H-1B category for years. Green card reform would reduce the current backlog and allow highly-skilled foreign-born workers to innovate, start new businesses, create jobs at home, and contribute to the U.S. economy in positive ways. Thus, I beseech you, in your capacity as Congressman/Congresswoman, to take the following actions regarding green card policy:
- Vote to raise the annual cap above 140,000 for all green cards.
- Support legislation to eliminate the per-country limits for green cards altogether.
- Reallocate the percentages of green cards available in each category to favor the EB-2 and EB-3 categories.
In addition, there are policy changes you can support that will orchestrate change from within USCIS. There is nothing in the Immigration and Nationality Act that prevents an H-1B spouse from working. This prohibition is purely an arbitrary act of regulation. Thus, these are some changes you could request that could help H-1B workers and their families:
Allow recapture of green cards not used in previous years.
- Exclude spouses and children from the annual 140,000 green card cap for H-1B worker visas.
- Continue and expand work permits for H-1B spouses, which would ease pressure on the H-1B category.
Hence, I respectfully request and anticipate your support in treating my community of hard working H-1B IT professionals favorably. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration regarding this issue.
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