Dear Friends,

As many of you may have heard, President Obama’s administration is planning to announce immigration relief in the form of administrative reform in the next few days. While the exact details are unknown at this time, there are some specific reforms that we have requested the White House and the Department of Homeland Security’s policymakers for the high-skilled immigration system. We expect that many of these reforms are likely to be included in the package that is announced. This announcement may come as early as this week.

In addition, to recapture unused green cards and EAD for H-4 visa holders, Immigration Voice has pushed for many different quality of life fixes to the system. We expect that a combination of the following fixes, in some variation, will be announced very soon by the administration.

  • Allow the applicant to submit and DHS to receive Adjustment of Status application when a visa number is not available.
  • Providing clarity to current law by clearly defining “Same or Similar Occupation Classification”.
  • Providing the immigration case-related paperwork to the beneficiary by USCIS and the Department of Labor. Currently, immigrants do not have access to their own immigration paperwork making them beholden to the employers, skewing the labor market.
  • Improving the system so that immigrants are not required to re-file and start the employment-based visa process all over again every time they change employer. This aspect of the system is being excessively abused by bad employers in the marketplace to coerce and threaten immigrant employees from changing jobs, resulting in employee exploitation and preventing labor mobility.
  • Allow porting of Priority Date between primary applicant’s employment-based green card petition and Spouse’s employment-based green card petition.
  • Making Visa Bulletin ‘Current’ allowing applicants to adjust status.
  • Providing clarity for allowing immigrants to start companies and work for their own companies on Optional Practical Training (OPT), Employment Authorization Document (EAD) pending Adjustment of Status, and H1-B visas, without impractical restrictions that are not required by the existing law.
  • Grant automatic extensions for 240 days of Work Authorization and Advance Parole if an extension was filed prior to the expiry of Work Authorization or Advance Parole.

We know that when we are restricted from freely moving in the market between employers and positions due to green card delays, it limits our potential to grow. It also binds us to our sponsoring employers and makes us more attractive as employees in the hi-tech industry where employee turnover is high and employee retention is tough. Because of the unfair competition created by long green card backlogs, a US citizen cannot compete on a level playing field against an immigrant who is bonded to his or her employer. Freeing people to move between employers and positions helps us grow; level the playing field for US citizens for fair competition and is beneficial to the overall economy. The same rationale applies to the less skilled labor market largely filled in by the undocumented immigrants.

It is extremely important for us as a community of skilled immigrants to stand shoulder to shoulder alongside our brothers and sisters who are undocumented but have contributed to the economy of their adopted homeland, just like we have. It is very easy to get mired in the bristling politics of the issue, but we must keep in mind that the relief announced for the undocumented is long overdue and well deserved just like the relief that is announced for us. We have to stand in support of the administrative reform package when we talk to friends, colleagues, social media, press, public forums, and policymakers – and speak with one voice. Making incendiary comments is not only wrong from a moral perspective, it is also bad politics.

Although it is very easy to preach the virtue of lawfulness, we have to remember that most of us, directly or indirectly, benefit from undocumented immigration. The very agitators, who might want to deport everyone, are the ones who live in houses that are built by undocumented immigrants; buy produce picked by undocumented immigrants, and stay in hotel rooms maintained by the very undocumented immigrants they want to deport. They all reap the benefits of cheap, exploited, and helpless undocumented immigrants and yet refuse to let them be a part of our society, just as skilled workers. We have to be careful and not get carried away by the tsunami of this hypocritical rant that is expected to follow the administrative reform.

As always, we will do our best to keep you informed as we hear more from policymakers and we thank you for your support and dedication to your noble cause.

Stay connected to know more and don’t forget to contribute!

~ Immigration Voice