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The Reconciliation Bill to Help Indian Visa Holders

Indian Workers Visas

The Reconciliation Bill to Help Indian Visa Holders

The budget reconciliation may be the ticket for thousands of Indian work visa holders to permanent residency; And at the same time, this could also be the second year in a row in which over 100,000 family-based Visas go unused. 

We’ll kick it off by talking about the situation of Indian professionals holding work visas.

There are hundreds of thousands of Indian professionals in the U.S. holding work visas, and since New Jersey has one of the largest Indian communities in the country, I wanted to address this subject in today’s video. 

The federal budget deadline is in September, and this could be their ticket to getting a green card, after waiting in backlogged lines for decades. 

After the State Department announced last July that 100,000 visas will go unused this year, their hopes took a huge blow, but now the budget reconciliation could bring a new alternative to finally get their permanent residency. 

Even before the covid pandemic, the Green Card backlog was a big issue within the immigration system, but it has only gotten worse with the pandemic and the closing of a great number of embassies and consulates around the world. 

This backlog is now at critical levels, with the waiting lines just getting longer and longer, and a system that has not been able to deal effectively with this.


Visas for Indian Professionals in the U.S.  

For Indian professional workers under H-1B work visas, that have made a life in the country, this situation is particularly hard because of the country cap that is placed on new green cards. 

This means that the federal government placed a limit on green cards for each country.  So, countries like India, China, the Philippines, and Mexico that send lots of immigrants to the U.S. must wait longer than individuals born in other countries, due to their large numbers.

After the announcement made in July about the unused visas, a lot of H-1B visa holders have been trying to reach the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dick Durbin, as well as Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader.

They are hoping that under a democratic-controlled congress, the H-1B visa holders’ situation can be included in the reconciliation bill that lawmakers need to pass by the start of October, at the beginning of the new fiscal year. 


The Reconciliation Bill of 2021 

A few weeks ago, I did a video about the reconciliation bill and how it can bring new hope for hundreds of thousands of immigrants looking for their green cards. 

If you want to check it out and get more information about this, I’ll leave the link in the comments below.

Now, the Biden administration is receiving heavy criticism for overseeing the wasting of over 100,000 green cards during the past fiscal year, and this year the same thing could happen. This is a topic that we’ll cover later in this video. 

But it’s important to mention it now because people are fighting hard since the reconciliation bill has the potential to provide a solution for millions of green cards solicitors. 

It’s a chance for a much-needed immigration reform that could be the ticket for a Green Card for millions of immigrants, and it will be a waste to throw this opportunity away. 

And this is a particular opportunity for Indian workers, who face one of the longest waiting times after Chinese workers, up to 80 years, meaning that many thousands will die before they receive their permanent residence.

According to experts, the green card backlog is due to restrictive government regulations, slow processing times, and a system that is overly reliant on paper instead of electronic documents.

It’s expected that a vast majority of workers in the H-1B green card backlog will be included in the reconciliation bill, and since this bill follows the budget resolution passed in August, it would authorize permanent resident programs that backlogged Indian workers want to be part of.

There’s even a slight hope that a new visa category could be created under the support of this bill, made for essential workers in any industry.


Country Caps for Green Cards 

Now, talking about country caps, this is a hard issue even for green card hopefuls. 

These caps place a 7% annual limit on the number of green cards issued to each country from the available pool; Indian visa holders, followed by Chinese, are most disadvantaged by this because their counties have the largest numbers of potential immigrants.

Under the U.S. Citizenship Act, there’s little support from Indian workers because it does not eliminate country caps. 

Another proposed bill, the EAGLE Act, addresses highly skilled legal immigration and phases out the country cap but is opposed by immigrants from other countries, who say it would delay their green cards.

The Indian visa holders who are asking for consideration in the budget reconciliation bill say they are alarmed that messaging from the administration leaves them out.

The government’s decision not to use its additional green card slots prompted a lawsuit by 125 Indian and Chinese doctors, engineers, and other professionals earlier this month. 

They argue that visa workers waiting for green cards don’t appear to be a priority for Democrats in Congress, who are focused on undocumented immigrants. 

The uncertainty and extreme waiting lines for Indian workers are a heavy burden on them; Career advancement, pay raises, spouses’ professions, and their foreign-born children’s futures are tied to immigration statuses that remain temporary until a green card arrives.

Foreign-born children of visa holders who wish to get permanent residency status to have American childhoods but end up having to self-deport or become undocumented at 21 when they age out of the legal status derived from their parents. 

Those who remain in the U.S. to attend college must switch to a student visa at 21 and pay high international fees. 


What is the Government Saying and Doing for Green Card Solicitors?

A spokesperson for Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat and sponsor of the U.S Citizenship Act, said in a statement that he cannot publicly discuss the bill while negotiations are underway and that he is committed to getting as much as possible of his immigration reform into the final reconciliation package. 

California Democrat Rep. Zoe Lofgren sponsored the EAGLE Act and said in a public statement that she is encouraging the inclusion of per-country cap relief in any upcoming budget reconciliation legislation.

And just a few days ago, three congressional representatives called on fellow Democrats to address relief for highly skilled immigrants stuck in the queue.

Still, the likelihood of wasted green cards being channeled into employment-based slots is low. 

The reconciliation bill needs a 51-vote margin to pass the Senate, where Democrats hold a bare majority: 50 seats plus Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaker.

Right now, the only thing we can do is wait for the reconciliation bill to pass Congress and be signed by President Biden to see which measures will be.



Moving on with our next topic, earlier I mentioned that I was going to talk about the situation of over 100,000 visas that will probably remain unused under this fiscal year. 

A few days ago, the Biden administration predicted that they would fail to issue many of the green cards allotted this year for immigrants who have been sponsored by a U.S. employer or family member.


Over 100,000 Employment-Based Visas Could Remain Unused During Fiscal Year 2021 

The Department of State estimated that approximately 100,000 employment-based visas and 150,000 family-based visas will go unused by the end of the 2021 fiscal year, which is at the end of September. 

Meaning that for the second year in a row over 100,000 visas for family-based immigrants will be unused. 

Current immigration law allows the federal government to grant up to 675,000 permanent immigrant visas each year.

These visas are divided like this: 

  • 480,000 for the “family preference” categories
  • 140,000 for employment-based immigrants, and 
  • 55,000 for winners of the diversity visa lottery

However, unused visas in the family preference categories are added to the allotment of employment-based visas for the following year.

But due to the Trump administration’s COVID-19 immigrant visa ban and the close of U.S. embassies and consulates abroad last spring, about 122,000 family-based visas for 2020 went unused.

Those visa numbers were added to the 2021 cap on employment-based visas, raising the total number available in Fiscal Year 2021 to 262,000.

At first, this gave hope for hundreds of thousands of workers that have been stuck in the visa backlog for years but now is almost certain that those visas will go unused and could be lost forever. 

The only hope is that Congress decides to make them available to current-day green card applicants.

If the Biden administration fails to solve this, one can only imagine the impact it will have on the already massive backlogs and huge wait times in the immigration system.


Talk to a New Jersey Immigration Attorney Today!

If you need assistance with your immigration issues, we are here to help.   

We won’t take your money if we can’t help you, so reach out to us today and our New Jersey immigration lawyers will see if we can get you started on your immigration journey.   

Until next time, stay healthy and be well.

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