Our Immigration System Is Leaving Skilled Workers and Their Families Behind

Discriminatory caps create long wait times for highly skilled workers and their families to obtain permanent residency leading to a drain of talent and the separation of families as people are forced to head to other countries. Certain highly skilled workers on H-1B visas often have to wait 25 or more years to get their green cards because of discriminatory caps that have been placed on green cards for immigrants from countries like India.

The H-1B Program

The H-1B program is a visa program that is designed to allow employers to hire highly skilled foreign nationals to fill positions that they are otherwise unable to fill. Many H-1B visa holders work in technology and science. With the H-1B visa, they are able to move to the U.S. to work, and their dependents are able to come with them on H-4 dependent visas. After living and working in the U.S. for a number of years, H-1B visa holders may be eligible to apply for an adjustment of status so that they can secure their green cards.

Why Is There a Backlog?

Caps have been placed on the number of green cards allocated for H-1B visa holders each year according to their country of origin. Many of the H-1B workers in the U.S. are from India, but the government has placed an arbitrary cap limiting the number of people who can secure employment-based green cards to 5,600 per year. About 44,000 people from India are placed on the waiting list each year. Some people from India wait 25 years or more before they are able to get their green cards.

Problems This Creates

People may live in the U.S. for decades, contributing to the community and to the economy, but be unable to become lawful permanent residents. If they are forced to leave and have U.S.-born children, their children will be forced to leave with them. Children who age-out of their H-4 dependent visa statuses may also be forced to leave the U.S. without their parents, despite the fact they have grown up in the U.S. This may lead highly skilled workers to choose other countries with better immigration systems.