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Remove country caps on EB2, EB3 Green Card aspirants.
By Sujeet Rajan
WASHINGTON, DC: It’s heartening that in all the imbroglio and limbo over illegal immigration, the US government finally took action after years to help legal immigrants, who form the real backbone of this country: it’s done the right thing by granting work permits, EAD cards, to H4 visa holders, beginning late summer of this year.
Read the story on EAD cards to be issued to H4 visa holders, effective May 26, 2015: #/2015/02/24/h-4-visa-holders-can-apply-for-ead-cards-beginning-may-26-2015/
It’s apparent that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) know the value of extending these work permits to H4 visa holders. Most of the H4 visa holders are educated, qualified and skilled workers who have been languishing in this country without being allowed to work, for no fault of theirs.
Their only fault, or even negligence, as some may call it harshly: left blossoming careers in their home country or aspirations for higher studies, to get married to somebody settled in the US, who has a good job, but doesn’t have a Green Card.
Here’s what the Director of the USCIS León Rodríguez acknowledged today about H4 visa holders: “Allowing the spouses of these visa holders to legally work in the United States makes perfect sense. It helps U.S. businesses keep their highly skilled workers by increasing the chances these workers will choose to stay in this country during the transition from temporary workers to permanent residents. It also provides more economic stability and better quality of life for the affected families.”
The USCIS also made it clear that they very well know the unfairness of it all over the years by not giving EAD cards to H4 visa holders, and how much this act of giving the cards finally will help highly skilled workers, on H-1B visas, and their families, who contribute a lot to the US economy, and make it a dominant force globally:
“DHS expects this change will reduce the economic burdens and personal stresses H-1B nonimmigrants and their families may experience during the transition from nonimmigrant to lawful permanent resident status, and facilitate their integration into American society. As such, the change should reduce certain disincentives that currently lead H-1B nonimmigrants to abandon efforts to remain in the United States while seeking lawful permanent residence, which will minimize disruptions to U.S. businesses employing them. The change should also support the U.S. economy because the contributions H-1B nonimmigrants make to entrepreneurship and science help promote economic growth and job creation. The rule also will bring U.S. immigration policies more in line with those laws of other countries that compete to attract similar highly skilled workers.”
The question to be asked is why did it take so long for the US government to do the right thing?
But here’s the thing: they have finally done it, and perhaps, this is just the catalyst that was required for further proactive action this year, on the legal immigration front, especially on removing the blockage for Green Cards for applicants from India, who are in EB2 and EB3 status. That action, on removing the country caps, should be the priority for advocates and activists of legal immigration. If that happens, it would go a long way in fixing the broken immigration system, on the legal immigration front.
Also, it’s important that the USCIS make further reforms and give EAD cards to all H4 visa holders, and not just a select few. Right now as it stands, only spouses of those H1B visa holders who have been here for more than six years and got extensions to stay on and work legally, or those who are in advanced stage of their Green Card applications, are eligible for work permits.
But what about those H4 visa holders who are new immigrants, are perhaps brilliant engineers and software programmers, teachers and academics, crave to get back to work? It’s now doubly unfair that they have to see a friend of their, also on a H4 visa, going to work, while they beat their heads against the wall.
The USCIS needs to understand that this is a human rights issue, that by denying work permits to certain H4 visa holders, it creates tremendous turbulence in their lives, wrecks marriages sometimes, puts financial pressure on families as they grow and extend their roots in the country.
And often times, by making H4 visa holders wait for six years or more to receive their Green Cards, they often lose their edge in the professions they had once worked in, or aspired to join. They need training to get back into cutting-edge industries, may not be prepared for the big day. Some may not be competent anymore, so the work permits may be useless.
At least, the USCIS needs to look into giving work permits to H4 visa holders who have been in the country for at least three years. That way, it would give new immigrants on that visa, a chance to even go in for some advanced studies in US colleges and universities to hone their skills and get further academic skills under their belt. They would be assured that they are preparing for a career down the road.
But kudos to the USCIS for finally taking a big, positive step in the right direction. Hope they keep it going.
And hope legislators on Capitol Hill see this, and take action to make further inroads to help skilled immigrants. After all, it helps the US economy too.
(Sujeet Rajan is the Editor-in-Chief of The American Bazaar)
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