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No Relief for Employment Based Immigrants in $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill

After threatening a veto, President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill this afternoon, which will avoid another government shutdown. The spending bill includes such provisions as $1.6 billion for border security, a pay raise for the military, and improved background checks for gun sales. Disappointingly, the spending bill does not address issues affecting immigrants, including Dreamers, highly-skilled H-1B workers, and those in the green-card backlog. It is a major disappointment that Congress once again has failed to protect those who have contributed significantly to the American economy. The lives of Dreamers continue to be in limbo. H-1B petitions will continue to be more highly scrutinized than ever before. Finally, those highly-skilled workers in the green-card backlog continue to face many years of waiting, possibly decades.

Although Congress has failed this time around, it still important to contact your Senator or State Representative to further immigration reform. 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:

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:


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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