In a big breather for foreign professionals, especially Indians in United States awaiting their green card, a White House Commission has recommended issuing an employment authorisation card and other necessary travel documents at the preliminary stage of the application processing system.
The new announcement, if implemented, will benefit over 8 million applicants, mostly Indians. It would include applicants who have been in the backlog for over 5 years and had submitted their application in 2018.
White House Commission for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Affairs approved this recommendation on Thursday. The proposal now needs to be approved by US President Joe Biden and it is being speculated that implementation may take over 18 months.
Green Card Recommendation beneficiaries
According to the proposal, the Department of Homeland Security’s US Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS USCIS) should grant employment authorisation documents (EADs) and travel documents to individuals who have approved I-140 employment-based visa petitions in the EB-1, EB-2, EB-3 categories and have been waiting in the visa backlog for five or more years. This would be regardless of whether they have filed applications for adjustment of status.
According to the proposal it will address workforce shortages, particularly in critical areas like healthcare and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields, bridging gaps in rural communities and providing coverage for specialised jobs.
Green Card Recommendation benefits
Without this rule, those in the backlog are indentured servants who must constantly renew their work visa (H-1B / L-1). During the process they can’t travel freely, can’t be unemployed for over 2 months, it’s very hard for them to change jobs or have a side hustle.
The validity of the EAD and travel documents should be till their Green card application final stage is processed, said the recommendation, which now has been accepted by the Commission. The new guidelines will enable freedom of movement between employers without restrictions, benefiting both workers and the economy, facilitate travel by obtaining advance parole, avoid visa appointment backlogs at the US embassies and support care for ageing parents in home countries.
“It would offer protection against deportation in times of health crises leading to disability or death of spouse on H-1B, ensuring fair and humane treatment and mitigating wage stagnation, enhancing career opportunities, and reducing the burden of temporary status, leading to improved mental health and well-being for immigrants and their families” Indian American community leader Ajay Jain Bhutoria stated.
A Green Card, also known 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. There are 1.8 million applicants, mostly Indians, who have been stuck in the green card application backlog.
(With PTI Inputs)