Prime Minister Modi is visiting the US from June 21-24 at the invitation of US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden
The Biden administration has eased norms by releasing policy guidance on the eligibility criteria for those waiting for green cards to work and stay in America, days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US.
Also Read: Explainer: What’s special about PM Modi’s visit to the US this time?
Prime Minister Modi is visiting the US from June 21-24 at the invitation of US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden. They will host Modi at a state dinner on June 22.
The visit also includes an address to the Joint Session of the Congress on June 22. The guidance issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regarding the eligibility criteria for initial and renewal applications for Employment Authorisation Document (EAD) in compelling circumstances is expected to help thousands of Indian technology professionals who are in the agonisingly long wait for a Green Card or permanent residency.
Also Read: Schengen visa to go digital, no stickers in passports: All you need to know
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.
Immigration law provides for approximately 140,000 employment-based green cards to be issued each year.
However, only seven percent of those green cards can go to individuals from a single country annually.
The USCIS guidance outlines specific requirements that applicants must meet to be eligible for an initial EAD based on compelling circumstances.
These include being the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, being in valid non-immigrant status or authorised grace period, not having filed an adjustment of status application, and meeting certain biometrics and criminal background requirements.
Further, USCIS will exercise discretion to determine whether an applicant demonstrates compelling circumstances justifying the issuance of employment authorisation.
These measures are a significant step towards supporting individuals facing challenging situations and ensuring their ability to work lawfully in the United States, said Ajay Bhutoria, a prominent community leader and advocate for immigrant rights.
He highlighted the importance of these measures for individuals and their dependents who find themselves in challenging situations such as serious illness or disability, employer disputes or retaliation, significant harm, or disruptions to employment.
Bhutoria said the non-exhaustive list of qualifying circumstances, as provided by USCIS, offers individuals an opportunity to present evidence supporting their case.
For instance, individuals with approved immigrant visa petitions in oversubscribed categories or chargeability areas may submit evidence like school or higher education enrollment records, mortgage records, or long-term lease records to demonstrate compelling circumstances, he said.
This provision can prove crucial in situations where families face the potential loss of their home, withdrawal of children from school, or the need to relocate to their home country due to job loss, Bhutoria added.
Foundation of India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS), which has been advocating for laid-off H1-B workers, applauded USCIS for taking such a step that would help a large number of Indian IT professionals.
“I really feel proud that a sustained advocacy for more than six months started reflecting in considerations and adjustments by USCIS,” said Khanderao Kand from FIIDS.
(With Agency inputs)