President Joe Biden has revoked a policy issued by his predecessor during the pandemic that blocked many Green Card applicants from entering the US, a move that will benefit many Indians working in America on the H-1B visa.
A Green Card, known officially as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued to immigrants to the US as evidence that the bearer has been granted the privilege of residing permanently.
Indian IT professionals, most of whom are highly skilled and come to the US mainly on the H-1B work visas, are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system which imposes a seven per cent per country quota on allotment of the coveted Green Card or permanent legal residency.
The H-1B visa, the most sought after among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
Reopening the country to people seeking green cards, or legal permanent residence, Biden in his proclamation on Wednesday said that the policy of former President Donald Trump does not advance the interests of the United States.
“To the contrary, it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here,” he said.
“It also harms industries in the United States that utilise talent from around the world. And it harms individuals who were selected to receive the opportunity to apply for, and those who have likewise received, immigrant visas through the Fiscal Year 2020 Diversity Visa Lottery,” Biden, a Democrat, said.
Biden said that the proclamation issued by his predecessor last spring has prevented these individuals from entering the US, resulting, in some cases, in the delay and possible forfeiture of their opportunity to receive Fiscal Year 2020 diversity visas and to realise their dreams in the country.
Trump, a Republican, issued the ban last year, saying it was needed to protect US workers amid high unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic
However, Biden has not revoked the Trump order issued last June that prohibits some foreign citizens from coming to the US on new temporary work visas, including the H-1B visa for specialty occupations. The Trump proclamation, if not renewed, expires automatically on March 31.
The US is currently facing a backlog of nearly 473,000 qualified family-based Green Card requests.
As a result of Trump’s ban on issuing green cards, as many as 120,000 family-based preference visas were lost. But this came as a big boon for issuing employment-based green cards, mainly those on H-1B visas.
Thousands of Indian IT professionals who painstakingly waited for their Green Card, received their legal permanent residency as a result in the last few months of the Trump administration.