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Immigratin Voice Testimony at House Judiciary Committee
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The issues, in a nutshell

1. Green Card Delays and Backlogs :

The Employment based green card system is completely broken due to excessive delays and backlogs in petitions of nearly half a million highly skilled workers who are certified by US Government to be doing a job that no US citizen is willing, qualified or able to do. The delays in obtained permanent residency are due to 2 reasons: Numerical caps on employment-based green cards and processing delays in adjudication of files. Today the system takes anywhere between 6-12 years to grant Green cards to some of the best and brightest of the world who have chosen America as their future home. 

These future Americans are facing huge quality of life issues and their employers are facing difficulty in attracting more of the best and brightest of the world due to the broken system. The system prevents these workers from accepting promotions and switching jobs for the time-period it takes to process their files. By stagnating career growth and suffocating the creativity of the most innovative and technical minds of the world, America is creating a class of future Americans, who would see no career growth for 6-12 years and making under-achievers of these individuals.

The pressure on these individuals to go back to their home countries are increasingly each day as many world economies, especially India and China are booming and they also happen to be the country of origin of more than half of these skilled foreign-born workforce. If America delays reform of the broken system of employment based immigration, the pressure on these individuals to go back would neutralize the incentive to wait here and tough it out with the broken system. It would result in a reverse brain drain where the talent and human capital flows from developed west to the burgeoning Asian economies. The reverse brain drain would exacerbate the effects of overseas outsourcing on economy. These future Americans have waited for reform for more than 2 years but congress hasn’t reformed the system yet. The fight for the best and brightest in the world is America’s to lose.   

2. The Per-Country rationing of green cards that exacerbates the delays :

Today, the employment based skilled immigrants face more backlogs if they are from India, China, Mexico or Philippines than what backlogs they would face if they were born anywhere but these 4 countries. This is due to the fact that green cards from the annual quota are rationed at 7% per country. Unused visas from the remaining countries that don’t use the 7% allocated visas are mostly never allotted to these 4 countries that have the highest number of scientists, engineers and technology workers willing to make America their future home. It is discriminatory to have laws that subject immigrants from 4 nations to more backlogs and the resulting hardship from such backlogs.

America has had per-country ceilings since decades on family based and diversity-lottery based visas and it makes sense to have uniform distribution of visas to countries where the basis for immigration is family relationship and family reunification. However, in the employment based immigration system, the petitioner is the employer who wants the retain the employee and facilitate employee retention based on skills, knowledge, education and talent. Employability has nothing to do country of birth. We do not allow employers to discriminate hiring based on their nationality or country of origin. Therefore, the employment-based immigration, which is a derivative benefit of employment, should also be free from rationing based on nationality or country of birth.


The Organization

Immigration Voice is a non-profit organization (501 (c) (4)) . We act as an interface between this set of immigrants and the legislative and executive branches of the government.

Immigration Voice has hired Patton Boggs, a top public affairs firm, to help us reach our goals. Patton Boggs brings a bipartisan, multi-disciplinary approach to helping clients tackle public affairs challenges. The firm’s government relations and communications professionals have a strong understanding of the White House, the U.S. Congress, Senate, Federal agencies, advocacy groups and the media. The firm and its members are consistently recognized as among Washington's most influential and effective by various publications. 

Immigration Voice is a non-profit organization. All of our volunteers are unpaid. All monies collected by Immigration Voice go towards grassroots efforts and obtaining advice from our strategic counsel Patton Boggs. As a 501(c)(4) organization, Immigration Voice is obligated to file tax returns with the IRS and have its accounts audited by a CPA.

Immigration Voice upholds the right of the people of the United States to impose immigration laws for the advancement of the nation. Immigration Voice acts within the framework of the constitution of the United States.

Our big initiative currently is towards addressing delays and other flaws in the employment based green card process. Immigration Voice has hired Patton Boggs, a top public affairs firm, to help us reach our goals.


Mission Statement

The mission of Immigration Voice is to organize grassroots efforts and resources to solve several problems in the employment based green card process including (a) delays due to Retrogression (visa number unavailability for certain employment-based categories) (b) delays due to USCIS processing backlogs and (c) delays due to Labor Certification backlogs. We will work to remove these and other flaws by supporting changes to immigration law for high-skilled legal employment-based immigrants. High-skilled legal immigrants strengthen the United States' economy and help maintain American technological superiority.


History of the formation of Immigration Voice

Immigration Voice was founded by a group of volunteers who were closely following the Senate debate in November of 2005 that aimed to provide relief from green card delays. Those reform provisions failed in the House-Senate conference in December. It was a huge disappointment for nearly 500,000 legal skilled immigrants stuck in backlogs. During this time, Aman Kapoor (aka WaldenPond)  an active poster at the forums announced a conference call to start this non-profit organization with the objective to end retrogression by creating representation for the community that had no representation. After an initial lukewarm response, few other active posters joined the team. Thus was born Immigration Voice.



Immigration Voice contributions to the debate

  1. September 2009. Streamlining of Security Screening Process for Foreign Scientists: DHS reduced the wait times for Visa stamping in foreign consulates to 2 weeks. A successful campaign was run by IV members. http://immigrationvoice.org/forum/forum16-iv-agenda-and-legislative-updates/654080-iv-update-good-news-for-people-stuck-due-to-security-checks-while-waiting-for-visas.html
  2. September, 2009. Successful completion of FOIA campaign: After filing hundreds of FOIA requests USCIS released the data of pending applications on their website. http://immigrationvoice.org/forum/forum16-iv-agenda-and-legislative-updates/630599-iv-update-on-visa-numbers-and-foia-data.html
  3. 2008: Admin Fix campaign. 2 Year EAD announced by USCIS for all that have filed AOS.
  4. 2008. Successful introduction of 3 bills in the House by Rep Zoe. Lofgren. This included elimination of per country limits Bill on which no other organization or business interest had ever advocated until that time. Immigration Voice successfully advocated these bills, brought in co-sponsors and received support from other interests for these bills.

    H.R.5882
    Title: To recapture employment-based immigrant visas lost to bureaucratic delays and to prevent losses of family- and employment-based immigrant visas in the future.
    Sponsor: Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] (introduced 4/23/2008)      Cosponsors (31)

    H.R.5921
    Title: To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate the per country level for employment-based immigrants and to end the spill-over of unused immigrant visa numbers between employment-based and family-sponsored categories.
    Sponsor: Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] (introduced 4/29/2008)      Cosponsors (24)

    H.R.6039
    Title: To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to authorize certain aliens who have earned a master's or higher degree from a United States institution of higher education in a field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics to be admitted for permanent residence.
    Sponsor: Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] (introduced 5/13/2008)      Cosponsors (34)
  5. September 18, 2007
    1. DC Rally: Thousands of high-skilled immigrants march in the US Capital!
    2. Lobby day: IV volunteers attend close to 125 meetings with lawmakers’ offices to lobby for congressional intervention
    3. Paid Advertisement in the Roll Call- the newspaper that covers the Capitol Hill
    4. Media coverage: New York Times, Washington Post, Yahoo, BBC, OC Register, Business Week
  6. July 2007 Visa bulletin reversal
    1. IV breaks the good news!  
    2. Flower campaign

                                              i.      USCIS takes note of the flower campaign

                       ii.      Media coverage: Business Week, Reuters, Washington Post, New York Times, NPR, Others, Video coverage

    1. San Jose Rally

                                                  i.     Media coverage: Business Week

  1. CIR 2006: Manager's amendment
    1. IV lobbies to ensure that this amendment contains favorable provisions for high-skilled immigrants
    2. The amendment was PASSED, although the bill itself did not survive
  2. Access to lawmakers
    1. IV is in close contact with Hon. Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s office on several issues related to Employment Based Immigration
    2. IV closely worked with Hon. Rep. Zoe Lofgren who played an instrumental role in bringing about reversal of July Visa Bulletin
  3. Contact with USCIS.  IV was the first one to bring news of the July 2007 Visa Bulletin reversal
  4. IV Spokesperson invited to conference at top US University
  5. Only organization FOR high-skilled immigrants BY high skilled immigrants
    1. Most visited site by high-skilled immigrants in the
    2. Number of registered members has risen from 50 to 25000 in less than 2 years! The following are approximate figures:

                                               i.      1/2006: 60

                                               ii.      2/2006: 600

                                               iii.      7/2006: 4500

                                               iv.      1/2007: 7500

                                                v.      7/2007: 15000

                                                vi.    8/2007: 20000

                                                vii.  11/2007: 25000

                                                viii.  07/2008: 30000

                                                IX.  09/2009: 36,810

 

National Advisory Board

Neil Patel Neil Patel
Former Domestic & Economic Policy Advisor to VP
Robert Hoffman Robert Hoffman
Senior Vice President of ITI
Ilya Shapiro Ilya Shapiro
Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, CATO Institute

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