Monday, February 22, 2010

Impatience with Priority Date Delays

If there is a single issue (besides the daily barrage of EB-5 inquiries) about which folks have been emailing me the past few weeks , it is definitely the Priority Date situation.  F-1 students, in particular, have evolved from the standard concerns about the transition from OPT to H-1B status (although, in this economy, even THAT is proving difficult) to long-range "when on earth will I ever get my green card?"

With Obama's promised Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) an increasingly distant possibility, transition from temporary status in the U.S. - as a student OR as a professional worker -- to U.S. permanent residency via employment is increasingly nebulous.

What really bugs me, however, is the soothing chant I keep hearing from others in my profession:

"RELAX, you can stay in H-1B status as long as necessary provided you start your PERM process prior to your fifth year in that status." 

That is of little comfort, and TOTALLY unrealistic when seen from the eyes of the prospective immigrant student/professional. IMHO, we can do better than create a situation where 100% of a person's destiny is in the hands of an employer who wields absolute immigration control until the end of the permanent residency process.

A colleague in the EB-5 business describes the whole H-1B and PERM process as "indentured servitude", and we've bantered that about quite a bit.  Seems to me that what I originally perceived as a bit of an exaggeration on his part is precisely what is genuinely taking root in the current economy, still slogging through with a very flawed employment-based immigration process. 

At a time when American competitiveness is most challenged,  it is tragic to put these desperately needed professionals through a process which is the metaphorical opposite of "rolling out the welcome mat".



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