Distressed that professionals from India on H-1B visas have to wait for decades to get their Green Card, Indian-origin lawmakers have expressed hope that a Biden administration would come to their rescue by removing the country cap on the legal permanent residency.
A Green Card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued to the immigrants in the US as evidence that the bearer has been granted the privilege of residing permanently. It allows a non-US citizen to live and work permanently in America.
Indian IT professionals, most of whom are highly skilled and come to the US mainly on the H-1B work visas, are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system which imposes a seven per cent per country quota on allotment of the coveted Green Card or permanent legal residency.
One of the original co-sponsors of the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, Democratic congressman from Illinois Raja Krishnamoorthi said on Saturday that removing per country cap from employment-based Green Cards would remove the Green Card backlog for Indian IT professionals, who are being brought here often to fill the shortages in the IT industry.
“I’m hopeful that under a Joe Biden administration, we’re finally going to be able to get this legislation through the Senate, and then signed into law and of course, as part of a comprehensive immigration reform package as a whole,” Krishnamoorthi said during a virtual panel discussion with other three Indian-origin lawmakers — Dr Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal and Ro Khanna — at the day-long IMPACT Summit.
The discussion was moderated by former US Ambassador to India Rich Verma.
Congresswoman Jayapal, who is vice chairman of the House Immigration subcommittee, said that they have been working on a number of immigration related issues including making sure that the spouses of H-1B workers are able to work in the US.
It includes addressing undocumented workers, a number of whom are Indians. Referring to a recent report, she said that 6.5 per cent of Indian-Americans are living below poverty lines.
Probably for the first time, the four Indian-origin lawmakers, popular as Samosa Caucus, were having a virtual panel where congressman Khanna said that he really believes that the Indian-American community can “be decisive” in swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
The focus of the community, he said, is to work for Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, whose victory would be historic as this would bring Indian-American Kamala Harris as the vice president.
“This is really a great moment for the community,” Khanna said.
In his remarks, Bera, the senior-most Indian-origin Congressman, said that the US-India relationship and the QUAD relationship are very important in the Asia-Pacific region.
Expressing serious concerns over the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bera said that the US needs to return to the global stage of working with likeminded allies.
Khanna said that the immigration community has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, including hotel and motel owners and small businesses. He, Jayapal and other lawmakers are working to get relief packages to those hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Every week, there are one million new unemployment claims, Jayapal said, adding that the government should be stepping in quickly. Hotels, motels and small businesses are collapsing, Krishnamoorthi said.
According to Bera, the pandemic has had a big impact on the health, including the mental health across the broad community in America. But it is also very prevalent in the South Asian Indian American community, he added.
The backlog for an Indian national to get the permanent residency or Green Card is more than 195 years, Republican senator Mike Lee said in July, urging his Senate colleagues to come out with a legislative resolution to address this issue.
US President Donald Trump, a Republican, is seeking another term in the White House. He is being challenged by former Vice President Biden of the Democratic Party in the November 3 presidential election.