Foreign workers, including H1B cohort, brace for nail biting finish as do-or-die US immigration deal inches closer to crucial vote next week

New York: Foreign workers, including H1B workers, are bracing for what might turn out to a make or break legislative effort with massive implications for their future in the United States at a time of tremendous immigrant stress.

The US Capitol dome. Reuters file image

The US Capitol dome. Reuters file image

The term immigration deal is a catchall for a wide arc of issues relating to (primarily) illegals but a compromise bill inching towards closure has been stuffed with policy tweaks for legal workers and immigrant families in the US.

In parallel is another bill - the Goodlatte bill - considered more hardline which would beef up security along the U.S. border, nix the diversity visa lottery ― which provides an estimated 50,000 visas annually ― and also cut “chain migration,” a common putdown by restrictionists to explain how immigrants sponsor their family members to join them in the U.S. Immigrant advocates use the terms “family reunification” or “family-based immigration” instead.

Trump ignited eleventh-hour confusion Friday when he said on his favorite morning news show Fox News that he was looking at two immigration bills expected to be voted on by the House next week, but that he "certainly wouldn't sign the more moderate one."

A draft of the "moderate" compromise bill - which we now don't know whether Trump will finally sign - found its way into the Breitbart newsroom. The rightwing newspaper pans it as the “biggest” amnesty for illegal aliens in United States history. Hidden deep inside the bill are provisions that address pressing concerns of foreign workers.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says the compromise legislation has an "actual chance at making law and solving this (immigration) problem."

Only the compromise bill would open a door to citizenship for young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, and reduce the separation of children from their parents when families are detained crossing the border — a practice that has drawn bipartisan condemnation in recent days.

If this bill passes, it would also allow the children of temporary foreign guest workers and “anyone who has a ‘contingent nonimmigrant status'” to apply for a pathway to a more permanent status in the US.

Children of E1, E2, H1B and L workers who have come into the country legally and been here for 10 years and on a legal status at the time of applying are eligible, from what we gather so far.

In the midst of a brand new set of hardline political goalposts, the stakes are high for foreign workers who are legally in the US - especially those who have applied for permanent residency (also called Green Cards) here and those whose children on dependent visas are 'aging out' while their parents face the prospect of waiting for decades for their PR status.

Many who are frustrated by the long waits are packing their bags for neighboring Canada or have already left.

Breitbart is calling the compromise bill potentially the biggest "amnesty" in American history, without a "numerical cap" and "allowing for an endless amount of foreign nationals to obtain amnesty through this avenue known as Pathway Concept B."

Cato Institute, a think tank explains the other side of the story: As of 20 April this year, 632,219 Indian immigrants, spouses and minor children are waiting for green cards under three categories of employment based immigration - EB1, EB2 and EB3.

"The shortest wait is for the highest skilled category for EB-1 immigrants with “extraordinary ability.” The extraordinary immigrants from India will have to wait “only” six years. EB-3 immigrants—those with bachelor’s degrees—will have to wait about 17 years. The biggest backlog is for EB-2 workers who have advanced degrees. At current rates of visa issuances, they will have to wait 151 years for a green card. Obviously, unless the law changes, they will have died or left by that point."

Green Card applicants who spoke with Firstpost reflect the gathering tension of simply not knowing how long they have to wait.

"We'll die before we get our Green Cards, it's become a joke", says one while many others like Vikram Rangnekar took quick decisions and moved north to Canada.

For millennials and and those who don't have children, moving on is relatively less cumbersome than for the 40s club and older, although exceptions apply.

After months of bitter negotiations, something close to a deal has been brokered between Republican party factions on a process to consider rival immigration plans.

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Updated Date: Jun 16, 2018 04:11:30 IST

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