Current Grass-Roots Initiative - I-485 Filing without Current Priority Date

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Employment-Based Green Card Backlog – Background

One of the fundamental driving forces behind America’s economic growth and success has been the innovation, hard work and endurance of its people. Millions of immigrants have landed on America’s shores over the decades, bringing with them immense talent and a keen sense of entrepreneurship which has strengthened the nation’s workforce and provided a cutting edge to America’s economy over the years.

However, the nation’s high-skilled employment-based green card system has become outdated and this is reflected in backlogs of up to 500,000 Employment-based Green Card applicants. One of the primary reasons for this backlog, which is severely impacting the lives of applicants especially from India and China, is that the total number of available employment-based visas allotted to each category (EB1, EB2 and EB3) country is around 28.6% of any given year’s overall employment-based quota of 140,000. Out of this, each country has a per-country CAP of 7%. This approximates to less than 2900 annual green cards per country in each EB category with no proportional adjustment being made for countries such as India and China with large skilled applicant pools. Therefore, the added strain of visa retrogression caused due to the per-country limits has adversely impacted aspiring immigrants from India and China. Another important reason for the accumulation of employment based backlogs is the inefficiency of the processing and EB visa inventory over the years and lack of visa recapture which has wasted up to 316,000 EB visas so far.

IV Initiative - USCIS should Allow I485 filing when visa number is not available i.e. Priority Date not current in Visa Bulletin

A brief overview of the Employment Based Green Card process is provided here -> EB Green Card Process Overview

Immigration Voice has been striving hard to petition the Congress for appropriate legislative measures to eliminate EB Green Card Backlogs. However, due to the uncertainty of implementation of appropriate legislation , Immigration Voice is pushing the USCIS/DHS for an immediate administrative fix which would allow I-485/Adjustment Of Status filing even when visa number is not available (i.e. even if Visa Bulletin is not current for the applicant's EB-category/Country of Chargeability). This will also enable the applicants to get the benefit of being able to apply for the EAD (Employment Authorization Document) and Advance Parole (AP) . The EAD allows the applicant to work in the USA without the requiremnt of a work visa such as the H1B or L1. The Advance Parole (AP) document allows Adjustment of Status applicants to avoid the continuous need for a valid visa stamp to travel in and out of the United states while their AOS application is pending either because of severe retrogression in the applicant's country and category or because of bureaucratic delays at the USCIS.

Efforts of Immigrationvoice helped several hundred thousand IV members and non members file I485,EAD and AP during the July 2007 fiasco. It has been three years since and IV is trying to determine the needs of our community for such a provision. In other words, this initiative is to help those who have already obtained labor certification and I-140 approval, to be able file the I-485 application for adjustment of status (final stage of Green Card process) even if their priority dates are not current due to visa retrogression. Visa retrogressed countries are identified as being NOT Current ("C") in the monthly Visa Bulletins published by the Department of State.

Past Visa Bulletin Data

This provision has been one of the top priorities of Immigration voice and we have made a case in our advocacy meetings. We wish to add more grassroots level efforts now if we see lot of support from our membership for it. Therefore, for such an initiative to succeed, Immigration Voice requires all affected EB green card applicants to speak up, join this campaign and be counted.

Based on calculations carried out using PERM data [1] , it is estimated that there are around 80,000-90,000 applicants impacted by the inability to file for Adjustment of Status (I-485). Most of these applicants are those who could not file I-485 during July/August 2007.

The upcoming tasks maybe compiling a sample list of IV members in an excel with their usernames and PDs, I140 approval date etc and finding how many IV members would get benefit from such a provision. Other items include drafting documents and letters to support this provision. There maybe action items including sending emails, creating youtube videos, audio essays to highlight the plight of folks stuck in limbo.

What can you do to participate

1) Send an email to i485.mailing.list@gmail.com with subject - "I485 filing without current PD - Impacted Member". Include your a) IV username b) Email address c) Phone #, d) State of Residence, e) Priority Date so that grassroot efforts can be coordinated.

2) Facebook - There is a Facebook Community [2] created to highlight this initiative. Search for "Immigration Voice Grass-roots campaigns" on Facebook. Help spread the message within the facebook community

3) Link Facebook Community and IV-Wiki on emails - Attach the link to the facebook community and this Immigration Voice Wiki page to your email signature.

4) YouTube - The Immigration-Voice Channel on YouTube has the recording of a radio show conducted recently to highlight the plight of Employment-Based Green Card applicants from retrogressed countries. Create brief videos sharing your experience and the need for relief for EB Green Card Applicants.

5) Google Groups - Dedicated members can also join the leaders group: http://groups.google.com/group/485-filing-iv-initiative. Contact i485.mailing.list@gmail.com with your email address/contact phone #. One of the members will contact you to help add you to the group.

6) Media/Newspapers/Blogs - Contact local/regional publications/newspapers/blogs to publish and Op-Ed or article highlighting the cause of backlogged EB GC applicants. Contact i485.mailing.list@gmail.com to obtain articles/Op-Eds created by the IV media group.

Ability to file adjustment of status as described above (which is similar to what Immigration Voice successfully accomplished in July 2007) will provide job and travel flexibility on a very specific basis to highly skilled EB green card applicants who are here legally and employed in the U.S. Job flexibility entails promotions, salary increases and ability to change employers. Without such an administrative fix, the normal wait to even file for I-485/EAD/AP is anywhere between 4-12 years. The employment-based green card retrogression has now developed into a true humanitarian crisis. Thousands of affected individuals spend many years of their working lives in limbo i.e., as neither temporary workers nor lawful permanent residents.

Please help in spreading the word about this group.

Contact : i485.mailing.list@gmail.com if you would like to know further details on how to actively participate in this campaign or would like to be added to the GoogleGroup created by volunteers working on this effort.

Immigration Voice Wiki - Main Page

Glossary

EB - Employment-Based

PD - Priority Date (Date of filing of labor application and Date which decides your position in the Green Card Application Queue)

GC - Green Card

EAD - Employment Authorization Document (Applied for along with submission of I-485 Application - enables applicant to work in the US)

AP - Advance Parole (Applied for along with submission of I-485 Application - enables applicant to travel outside USA and re-enter the US without requirement of visa stamping)

I-485/AoS - Adjustment of Status, third stage of the EB-GC process. Currently, applicants from heavily backlogged countries such as India and China cannot even submit the I-485 application due to Priority Dates not being "Current" (as of January 2011 Visa Bulletin).
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