Lets face the fact, the craze of getting the US Green Card has not died just that it has become very hard to get one. Engineers who come on H1-B visa have a natural inclination to get Green Card, which in turn is a pathway to citizenship. Unlike H1-B visa which can be valid for only 3 or 6 years, a green card ensures that the person can live and work in United States for the rest of his life. Both employers and individuals who come to work on H1-B visa are facing increased scrutiny from USCIS (US Immigration authority also called INS). If you are from India or China, getting Green Card (GC) is even harder. There are several reasons behind it:
1. Green Card Quota Per Country:
There is a limit on how many employment based Green Cards are issues per country every year (I think its 7% per country). Unfortunately, H1-B visas are mostly used by citizens of India and China, therefore there is a very high number of GC applicants from these two countries. Unfortunately due to this the "per country" quota becomes the bottleneck. Additionally if the individual is married and adds other family members (spouse and kids) along with his GC application, then the per country quota is reduced by the total number of applicants who are issued the GC and not by just one. Although there is some rollover of unused GC quota from other countries, it is not enough. As a result, a typical EB-2 GC applicant has to wait 5+ years and an EB-3 GC applicant has to wait for 7+ years in today's time.
2. Bad US Economy:
The "Comprehensive immigration bill" in the US Congress which was supposed to eradicate GC backlogs is stuck because there is a very high unemployment within US itself due to the bad economy. Locals question that why should foreigners ( people from India/China etc..) come here to work anyway when there are so many unemployed US Citizens in this bad economy. Most people believe that the granting of H1-B visa should be stopped so that companies are forced to hire US citizens.
3. Abuse by Indian Outsourcing Companies:
In late 1990's the majority of H1-B visas were being issued to companies who wanted to bring in skilled workers from foreign countries to work for US based corporations. But these days, a majority of H1-B applications come from Indian outsourcing companies (Like Wipro, Infosys, TCS etc..). These companies send Indian IT engineers for a few years to USA, just to bring US jobs back home for outsourcing IT projects. This is a clear abuse of the system. Even though some jobs are created within US as well during this process, the actual number of jobs lost (or could have been created otherwise) for US individuals are far more. The world economy is getting more and more globalized, therefore it is not easy to control this trend. Additionally, whether or not there are enough US citizens who have good skills or not, remains a matter of dispute.
4. Less companies are willing to file GC anyways:
Since a large portion of individuals come here just for a few years, there is not enough time anyways to get the green card. Secondly, due to the paperwork complexity and high cost involved to file green card, more and more companies are getting reluctant to file the green card. Many people who come on H1/L1/L2 visa face this problem.
5. People want stability in mid-life:
Regardless you are on H1 or L1 visa, once you are married and have kids, there is a desire to have stability in life. The true guarantee that one can spend the rest of life in USA comes only after getting the green card, and obviously that is getting harder for people of Indian and Chinese origin. For example, it is hard to convince yourself to buy a home, or change jobs when one is here on just a work visa. On the other hand, since Indian economy is booming, many individuals decide to go back to have a more stable life.
6. Some employers wrongfully ask you for Visa/GC filing fee:
Even though by law, employers are supposed to fully bear all fees related to immigration, some smaller "desi" companies try to game the system. They try to charge employees the high costs related to H1 filing, GC filing and things like EAD ad AP documents, Lawyer fee etc ..(under the table) which can run into thousands of dollars; and if you have family then multiply it with the number of family members.
7. Harder to change jobs on H1-B visa:
Due to increased complexities and scrutiny by USCIS, more and more companies are now hesitant to transfer your H1-B visa to bring you on their payroll. Hiring an employee who is a US citizen is far more easy than one on visa, and if that employee wants to additionally get the GC done, then it gets even more complex for them.
8. Lower wages:
Until you do not get the GC, it is common to get lower wage when compared to another US citizen doing the same job. This simply adds to the frustration.
9. Inability to take promotions or excessive salary hikes:
Since Green Card labor certification is for a certain job title and role, it can prevent you from taking promotions until you actually get it. For example: if one was a "Software Programmer" when Stage 1 of GC is filed (Labor Certification), then until the final stage is not over (I-485), then one cannot take a promotion to "Manager of IT" because that role will not match with that of "Software Programmer", which was the basis of his GC. People can take salary raises, but there is always a concern that if the salary goes too high before GC is approved then in some cases it can become a issue.
10. A big headache in case of a layoff:
When a person on H1-B who is between his GC processes is laid off, it can be a matter of great concern. People who are in final stage of GC and have EAD card and may be fine, but majority of people whose GC is not in final stage are generally out of luck and have to start the whole process all over again. So not only they have to get their H1-B transferred, they also have to ensure that the new employer will cooperate with him in the GC process.
Due to delays, greater scrutiny and bad US economy the whole GC process can be very frustrating. It has become very hard for EB-2 and EB-3 GC applicants from India and China to get Green Card unless there is a change in immigration laws of United States of America.
I am not a lawyer, so feel free to correct me or add comments. I like immigration attorneys Murthy.com and Immigration.com and they have tons of useful information on this topic.
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Sent by Bharat