Days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, the Biden administration relaxed rules by issuing policy guidelines on the eligibility requirements for those waiting for green cards to work and remain in the US.
From June 21 to 24, Prime Minister Modi will be in the US at the invitation of President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden. On June 22, they will host Modi at a state supper. On June 22, the US Congress will meet in a joint session as part of the visit.
Thousands of Indian technology professionals who are in the agonisingly long wait for a green card or permanent residency are expected to benefit from the guidance provided by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regarding the eligibility criteria for initial and renewal applications for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in compelling circumstances.
A green card, also referred to as a permanent resident card, is a legal document given to immigrants in the US as proof that they have been granted permission to live there permanently.
According to immigration legislation, 140,000 green cards based on employment are given out year.
However, only 7% of such green cards can each year be granted to citizens of a single nation.
To be eligible for an initial EAD based on compelling circumstances, applicants must fulfil particular standards outlined in the USCIS guidance.
These include holding a valid non-immigrant status or authorised grace period, not having submitted an application for an adjustment of status, meeting certain biometric and criminal background standards, and being the primary beneficiary of an authorised Form I-140.
Additionally, USCIS will use its discretion to decide whether an applicant can show compelling reasons why an employment authorization should be granted.
Ajay Bhutoria, a well-known community leader and supporter of immigrant rights, said, “These measures are a significant step towards supporting individuals facing difficult situations and ensuring their ability to work lawfully in the United States.”
He emphasised the significance of these measures for people and their dependents who encounter difficult circumstances like serious illness or disability, employer disputes or retribution, significant harm, or employment disruptions.
According to Bhutoria, the non-exhaustive list of qualifying conditions offered by USCIS gives people the chance to produce evidence in support of their claims.
In order to substantiate compelling circumstances, he explained, “individuals with approved immigrant visa petitions in oversubscribed categories or chargeability areas may submit evidence like school or higher education enrolment records, mortgage records, or long-term lease records.”
According to Bhutoria, this clause can be quite useful in cases where families would be forced to leave their homes due to job loss, pull their kids out of school, or move back home.
USCIS deserves praise for taking this action that will benefit many Indian IT professionals, according to the Foundation of India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS), which has been fighting for laid-off H1-B workers.
Khanderao Kand from FIIDS remarked, “I really feel gratified that persistent lobbying for more than six months started reflecting in deliberations and changes by USCIS.