“How can I get a green card faster than through my employer?” That’s the question we’ve been getting over and over recently, especially from Indian and Chinese software engineers in Silicon Valley.
Last week, the Cato Institute, a public policy think tank, estimated that individuals from India face a whopping 151-year wait to transition from an EB-2 visa to a green card. EB-3 visa holders from India face a 17-year wait. These ridiculously long wait times are the reward for people who have followed every rule of our complex immigration system!
Given Trump’s policy of “extreme vetting” for H-1B visas, this is a major concern to individuals who have jobs here, U.S. citizen children, and houses they own. If you leave for a business trip and try to renew your expired H-1B visa, the arbitrary decision of a visa officer might mean you can never return.
Every day, we help highly skilled Indian and Chinese software engineers who work at major Silicon Valley tech companies, such as Google, Facebook, and Apple, find solutions.
Usually, our professional, hard-working clients have been contributing to the United States for the past 10 to 15 years. They typically came here as F-1 students to pursue masters and doctoral degrees in computer science and electrical engineering. After OPT (Optional Practical Training), their employers sponsored them for H-1B visas.
Then, their employers sponsored them for green cards by going through the PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) labor certification process. They received approval on a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. If they are from India or China, green card wait times just keep getting longer and longer.
Now, these individuals are typically married and have managed to buy a home in the expensive Bay Area housing market. Their spouse is usually also an established tech employee. They usually have one to three kids who are U.S. citizens and don’t know any other home.
How can you have any security in building your life and career as a contributing member of U.S. society when your ability to live here could be snatched away at any moment?
What’s the Wait Time?
Unfortunately, it’s common to wait over 10 years for a green card—even if you work at Google. The State Department’s Visa Bulletin for June 2018 affirms that individuals from India have waited their turn in line for more than 10 years to switch from an H-1B visa to EB-2 or EB-3 green cards, which are typical green card categories for software engineers. For individuals from China, the wait is three to four years.
The thing is, the Visa Bulletin changes month-to-month based on the number of people who applied back in 2008. Based on the Cato report, the wait times could surpass a lifetime.
It can be frustrating to feel like you might jeopardize your family’s life in this country just because you’d like to switch jobs to pursue an opportunity at a different company or create your own startup. Fortunately, there are ways to take your immigration future into your own hands. Many of our clients—even if they don’t have PhDs—are accomplished enough to self-petition for EB-1A extraordinary ability green cards, for which there is currently no backlog.
Our other clients pursue EB-5 investor green cards as passive investors, typically putting up $500,000 into a regional center.
Finally, individuals from countries other than China or India may also consider EB-2 green cards with National Interest Waivers (NIW). EB-2 NIW green cards have easier standards than the EB-1A.
The Alcorn Advantage
The Alcorn Immigration Law team takes pride in our creative thinking. We truly care about understanding the unique situation of each of our clients and tailoring a strategy to help them meet their goals.
While some other law firms focus on volume EB-1A petitions for scholars, most of our efforts focus on those who don’t fit that mold and who have expertise in business and engineering. Unlike other law firms that require you to have 10 publications before they accept you as an EB-1A client, we take a holistic approach to evaluating your credentials. Unlike some corporate law firms dedicated to serving only the employer, we can also include evidence of high salary and remuneration as one of the EB-1A criteria.
Let Us Show You What We Can Do
The Alcorn Immigration Law team believes immigration leads to innovation. We can determine the best strategies for you, your family or employees to come to or remain in the U.S. Contact us for a consultation. Let’s find a solution together.