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Letter Writing Campaign for High-Skilled Immigrants – Dependents Should Not Be Counted Towards Green Card Quota

Again, Employment-based adjustment of status applicants continue to experience extremely long processing delays of their I-485s. Congress set the annual worldwide level for employment-based preference immigrants of at least 140,000 in Section 201 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The increase in visas available for FY 2021 provided hope that the backlog could be reduced significantly. Instead, due to inaction on USCIS’s part, 80,000 employment-based visas were not processed in time and were wasted. Simply put, the agency is not processing pending applications fast enough. There are thousands of applications for adjustment of status pending with USCIS.

Recently, USCIS announced that there are an exceptionally high number of employment-based visas available this fiscal year (October 2021 through September 2022) making it crucial that USCIS improve its adjudication system in order to process the available green cards by September 2022. The USCIS Office of Policy and Strategy is fully aware of the time constraint, yet Employment-Based adjustment applications:

are taking 11 to 19.5 months to adjudicate at the Nebraska Service Center; and

are taking 15 to 44.5 months to adjudicate at the Texas Service Center.

At these rates, three to four years’ worth of immigrant visas will be wasted while we wait upon USCIS to act on its pending applications. Congress should not stand for such a waste of government resources.

One would think that 140,000 green cards a year is enough. And it could be. But there is one huge reason that it hasn’t been enough: family members.

§1153. Allocation of immigrant visas

b)       Preference allocation for employment-based immigrants: Aliens subject to the worldwide level of 140,000 for employment-based immigrants in a fiscal year shall be allotted visas as follows:

1)       Priority workers

A.      Aliens with extraordinary ability

B.      Outstanding professors and researchers

C.      Certain multinational executives and managers

2)       Aliens who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or aliens of exceptional ability

3)       Skilled workers, professionals and other workers

4)       Certain special immigrants

5)       Employment creation

 

 

140,000 green cards are not given to immigrant workers every year. Only around half of these green cards go to the sponsored workers. The rest are given to the spouse and child(ren) of the sponsored worker. But, the kicker here is that the statue does not instruct the visas to be allotted this way! In fact, the statute does NOT instruct the visas to be allotted this way! The statute is structured as follows:

 

 

b) Preference allocation for employment-based immigrants: Aliens subject to the worldwide level of 140,000 for employment-based immigrants in a fiscal year shall be allotted visas as follows:

1)       Priority workers and the spouse of child of such alien

A.      Aliens with extraordinary ability

B.      Outstanding professors and researchers

C.      Certain multinational executives and managers

2)       Aliens who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or aliens of exceptional ability and the spouse of child of such alien

3)       Skilled workers, professionals and other workers and the spouse of child of such alien

4)       Certain special immigrants and the spouse of child of such alien

5)       Employment creation and the spouse of child of such alien

 

 

If Congress intended for family members to fall under the 140,000 allotment, shouldn’t family members have been mentioned under subsection (b)? Shouldn’t they have stated:

 

 

 

 

So, what can be done about this? Since the statute is clear, this is not something for Congress to fix. Another White House petition probably won’t be helpful either, and given the disappointing result of the last one, I think it might be tough to even get enough signatures. I am proposing a letter-writing campaign. Who is with me?

 

Now is not the time to be discouraged! Just because one attempt didn’t work doesn’t mean you should just give up. If you truly want something, you’ve got to keep fighting for it. I have drafted a letter below as a guideline you can use. But, be sure to TELL YOUR STORY!  I hope you’ll consider giving this a try. Sending an email will only take a few minutes.

 

Email the USCIS Director at: PolicyFeedback@uscis.dhs.gov

Email the CIS Ombudsman at: cisombudsman@dhs.gov

Dear USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou,

My name is _____________, and I am writing this letter to urge you to encourage USCIS to fix their processing times for Employment-Based Form I-485 applications. Even though there are 140,000 green cards available for workers each year, and 28.6% of those are reserved for people like me, with an advanced degree, almost half of these green cards are being used for family members of sponsored workers, and this is not what Congress intended!

I am a _____job title_____ and have been living and working in the United States pursuant to a temporary work visa since ____date____. My family has been able to move to the United States and live with me as my dependent(s) by maintaining ____H-4/L-2____ visa status. I have correctly followed all required steps to apply for a green card and have waited _____years for an immigrant visa to be available based on my category and country of birth. Now that 290,000 immigrant visas are available, I was finally eligible to apply for adjustment of status, only to be stuck waiting endlessly for my application to be processed.

I want to contribute to this country. My work in the field of ___________helps _______describe the importance of your work to the US economy or society _______. I have done my best to comply with all the immigration rules of this country. I have been through ____ # of H-1B (or F-1, OPT, L-1, H-4, etc) ______ visa renewals over the years. Every time I want to travel to my home country, I have gone through a visa interview at a U.S. Consulate. The Department of Labor has already confirmed that my presence in the United States does not harm U.S. workers.

The immigration law is clear: 140,000 immigrant visas are to be allocated for employment-based immigrants.

The law does not include family members within this worldwide level, but your administration does. This incorrect application of the plain meaning of the immigration law means that I will continue to wait. Some estimate that the current wait time for an immigrant visa is 82.5 years. My children may have to sponsor me one day because I may still be waiting by the time they turn 21. My life continues to be on hold. I cannot put down roots in the country I was drawn to – a land full of opportunity – while my status continues to linger somewhere in between non-immigrant and immigrant.

I respectfully ask you to correct the mistake that is limiting the contributions of so many immigrant families waiting in limbo. Stop cutting legal immigration to half the level that Congress authorized. Immigrants shouldn’t die waiting for visas that they already have every legal right to.

Sincerely,

 ____Name_______

Dear CIS Ombudsman Phyllis Coven,

My name is _____________, and I am writing this letter to urge you to encourage USCIS to fix their processing times for Employment-Based Form I-485 applications. Even though there are 140,000 green cards available for workers each year, and 28.6% of those are reserved for people like me, with an advanced degree, almost half of these green cards are being used for family members of sponsored workers, and this is not what Congress intended!

I am a _____job title_____ and have been living and working in the United States pursuant to a temporary work visa since ____date____. My family has been able to move to the United States and live with me as my dependent(s) by maintaining ____H-4/L-2____ visa status. I have correctly followed all required steps to apply for a green card and have waited _____years for an immigrant visa to be available based on my category and country of birth. Now that 290,000 immigrant visas are available, I was finally eligible to apply for adjustment of status, only to be stuck waiting endlessly for my application to be processed.

I want to contribute to this country. My work in the field of ___________helps _______describe the importance of your work to the US economy or society _______. I have done my best to comply with all the immigration rules of this country. I have been through ____ # of H-1B (or F-1, OPT, L-1, H-4, etc) ______ visa renewals over the years. Every time I want to travel to my home country, I have gone through a visa interview at a U.S. Consulate. The Department of Labor has already confirmed that my presence in the United States does not harm U.S. workers.

The immigration law is clear: 140,000 immigrant visas are to be allocated for employment-based immigrants.

The law does not include family members within this worldwide level, but your administration does. This incorrect application of the plain meaning of the immigration law means that I will continue to wait. Some estimate that the current wait time for an immigrant visa is 82.5 years. My children may have to sponsor me one day because I may still be waiting by the time they turn 21. My life continues to be on hold. I cannot put down roots in the country I was drawn to – a land full of opportunity – while my status continues to linger somewhere in between non-immigrant and immigrant.

I respectfully ask you to correct the mistake that is limiting the contributions of so many immigrant families waiting in limbo. Stop cutting legal immigration to half the level that Congress authorized. Immigrants shouldn’t die waiting for visas that they already have every legal right to.

Sincerely,

 ____Name_______

By: Rahul Reddy and Juanita Deaver

 

 

 

 

Rahul Reddy is the founding partner of Reddy & Neumann PC. He founded our firm in 1997 and has over 23 years practicing employment-based immigration. Rahul‘s vast knowledge of the complex immigration system renders him an invaluable resource and an expert in the field. His personal experience with the immigration system has made him empathetic to each of his client’s cases and empowers him to help others achieve the American Dream.

Rahul‘s dedication to serving the immigrant community is evident, from his daily free conference calls to his weekly immigration Q&As on Facebook and YouTube Live. He is an active member of the immigrant community and is one of the founders of ITServe Alliance. He has been a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association since 1995.

 

 

 

 

Juanita earned her J.D. from South Texas College of Law Houston in May 2021. As a law-student, Juanita interned at a non-profit organization where she discovered her passion for immigration while working on family-based cases helping file I-130 petitions and I-485 adjustments of status. During her time at South Texas, she further pursued her interest in the field of immigration law through enrollment in the school’s Immigration Clinics where she worked on TPS, T visas, and DACA cases. Her experience working with families and clients in emergency situations has provided Juanita the tools and experience to provide clear and concise explanations to the seemingly daunting immigration process.

Juanita joined Reddy & Neumann as a law clerk in December 2019. While clerking, she gained valuable experience by working closely under attorneys from each of the firm’s departments on drafting successful requests for evidence, appeals, motions to re-open, and through legal research on immigration matters. Juanita understands that every case is unique and hopes to provide each client with a better understanding of the ever-changing immigration process.