When techies from India and others meet in swanky cities in the US, the first talking point is on their Green Card status, followed by visa updates. There is a reason. Reports indicate that over one lakh Indian children in the US may get separated from their parents due to a massive backlog in the process of granting Green Cards.
10.7 lakh Indians in queue for employment based Green Cards
According to the latest figures, 10.7 lakh Indians are in the queue for employment based Green Cards a dream that they have been chasing for years. A Green Card offers legal permanent residency in the United States.
The US has imposed a 7 per cent cap for every country for issuing Green Cards. Added to this is a stockpile of pending cases. A back of the envelope calculation would indicate that the backlog with the cap in place would take more than 135 years to be completed at the current numbers. Kids who move to the US from other countries fall under H-4 visa, a non-immigrant visa for the spouses and children of H-1B visa holders. H1B visas are temporary work visas for highly skilled workers. However, when the children attain the age of 21, they are no longer allowed to stay in the US under the H-4 visa category. These children are sometimes referred to as "documented dreamers. A study by David J Bier, an immigration studies expert at the Cato Institute, said that by the time the Green Card applications get processed, as many as 1.34 lakh Indian children, who are under the H-4 visa, will have to leave the US.
Employment Authorisation Document
This will lead to forced separation from their parents. The study said that if factors like dropping-out, deaths, etc, are considered, the wait time would be no less than 54 years. However, all is not lost. When children turn 21, they still have an option: secure an F-1 or a student visa. This visa allows them to study in the US, but they are not allowed to work without obtaining an Employment Authorisation Document (EAD).
The EAD application process can be lengthy and expensive. There is no guarantee that these children will be able to obtain an F-1 visa, as only a limited number of children manage to get it. Otherwise, they will have to self-deport to their home country. This can be a difficult and emotional decision, especially for children who came to the US as kids and have grown up there with little or no connection with their families or relatives in India.