Around 1.1 million Indian-origin non-immigrant visa holders are waiting for their priority date to become current to apply for an I-485 for a green card, the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) said, adding that the country-wise limit of seven per cent restricts their annual approval, causing almost 135 years of delays, and estimated more than 400,000 would not see permanent residency in their lifetime.
Issuing Employment Authorisation Cards during the early stages of green card processing would help a large number of Indian Americans, their spouse and grown-up kids from a lot of uncertainties and distress, FIIDS said.
“Recognising the imperative of maintaining America’s competitive advantage, it is crucial to acknowledge the immense contributions these individuals and their families make to the nation’s economy by driving innovation and enhancing diversity,” Khanderao Kand, FIIDS Chief of Policy and Strategies, said in a letter to Ur Jaddou, Director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
“Furthermore, on humanitarian grounds, it is pertinent to avoid a situation where these individuals find themselves in a status akin to indentured labourers,” he wrote, urging the USCIS chief to take three major steps.
“For Employment-Based Applicants: Grant EAD to I-140 approved applicants for a duration of five years without necessitating waiting for I-485 processing. For Spouses of Applicants: like the announcement on 27th September, give five years auto-renewal EAD to H4-EAD spouses to provide them with the freedom from the uncertainty and contribute independently,” Kand said.
“For Documented Dreamers: Allow H4-EAD and extend their visa coverage from 21 years to 25 years, providing them with a stable status until they can pursue their own immigration path,” the letter said.
He urged the USCIS to consider the appeal with utmost urgency, taking into account “the human aspects of these prolonged immigration delays and the immense potential these individuals bring to American society.
“Implementing these changes would not only alleviate the immense pressure faced by these families but also fortify the United States as a nation that values and nurtures talent and diversity,” Kand wrote.