Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Nonimmigrant Visa Processing Delays Threaten Family Separations

A group of organizations, led by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), which brings together some 15,000 lawyers nationwide, sent a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Alejandro Mayorkas, requesting him to take action in the matter for avoid family separations by not receiving their visa renewals on time.

“We write to you with great concern about the uncertainty that plagues the family members of many employment-based nonimmigrant visa holders, children of long-term nonimmigrant workers, who face enormous obstacles in remaining united with their immediate family members (spouses). and unmarried minor children) due to the growing accumulation of applications and archaic rules that punish children when they reach 21 years old, ”reads the letter signed among others by FWD.us, a pressure group made up of leaders of the technology community, including Mark Zukerberg, founder of the social network Facebook; Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn; Erick Schmidt, president of Google; and Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox, among others.

“We urge you to address this issue to help these families stay together in the United States and allow our economy to flourish to its fullest,” they added.

Irreplaceable Talent Awaiting Nonimmigrant Visas

The letter recognizes that the contribution that thousands of workers with non-immigrant visas make each year is invaluable, and that both the economy and American society are enriched by the talent of immigrants and non-immigrants.
holders of these visas, including the H1 for professional workers, and the H2 used by workers in the field and in various seasonal industries, such as hotels and tourism.

Holders of these visas can bring spouses and unmarried minor children who receive a valid stay permit for the same time. But when the minor turns 21, she loses the immigration benefit and must leave the country or change her permanence status through another legal route that is available.

It adds that each year “hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals work on various nonimmigrant visas, providing much-needed skills to supplement the American workforce.”

Millions of jobs

The letter addressed to Mayorkas also reveals that, as of early this spring, “American companies had more than 11 million open jobs, 5 million more vacancies, and many of them are for highly skilled positions.”

They explain that companies hire foreign-born workers to fill the shortage of American workers and that these openings “are especially critical given the pandemic, as the United States seeks to maintain its status as a world leader in innovation and ingenuity.”

“For H1-B visa holders, for foreign professionals, as well as for others on nonimmigrant visas, they are critical drivers of economic growth in the U.S. economy” and all of them “help maintain our competitive advantage in the world stage, but the immigration system does not serve them adequately, nor their families.”

“Their spouses (who receive a derivative visa and cannot legally work in the country, except if in some cases they have filed and approved adjustment of status) are often barred from working because they are trapped in
red tape and obtaining a green card can take decades,” he says.

He also warns that, after spending years in the United States, because of the delays and bureaucracy in the processes, “their children are at risk of losing the ability to remain in the country once they turn 21.”

“This uncertainty harms families and prevents our companies from attracting and retaining critical talent in companies,” they indicate.

The fate of children of nonimmigrant visa holders

According to estimates from companies using nonimmigrant visas, more than 200,000 children have grown up in the United States protected by their parents’ visa status.

“They go to school, join sports clubs and teams, make friends and become part of the fabric of local communities across the country. They begin to build their own American dream”, they indicate.

However, they add, “once they turn 21, their legal status in the United States expires and these young people face the difficult choice between leaving the country they have become home or trying to re-enter the labyrinthine high-risk immigration system. to get a different visa where options are extremely limited.”

They remind that because of the way the system is structured, “their parents must separate from their children or abandon their careers and any plans to seek permanent residency,” simply because there are no paths to do so.

“Those who are forced to leave are a loss to America’s communities and workforce. Their skills and talent will go to our global competitors.”

The letter cites as an example to understand the situation experienced by thousands of children of non-immigrant visa holders dreamerswho were brought by their parents when they were children and do not know any other country than the United States.

“We urge policymakers to also address the needs of the more than 200,000 children from highly-skilled families on nonimmigrant visas who are at risk of falling through the cracks in the immigration system” and having to face forced departure or deportation. deportation from the United States.

“We believe in the power of innovation to move society forward and create a better tomorrow. Likewise, we believe in family values ​​and decency. Policies that stop the injustice wrought by these old norms will not only promote all of these beliefs that we share, but will also set the stage for more significant reform efforts in the future,” they said, referring to broad immigration reform that would regularize the stay of the 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in the country.

At the end of March, the Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had more than 8.4 million accumulated cases, according to its database.

Además de AILA y FDW.us, la carta la firman Amazon, Google, IBM, Improve, The Dream, Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), Intuit, Juniper, Networks, Nielsen, Salesforce, South Asian Bar Association, TechNet, Twitter, Uber Technologies e Inc. U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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