In preparation for the upcoming H-1B lottery, Immigration Voice calls on Biden Administration to stop issuing new H-1B Visas for Indian Nationals not already in the U.S.

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Amidst uncertainty as to whether the Biden Administration will act to remove the systematic discrimination and life-long indentured servitude of immigrants from India, Immigration Voice demands to protect future Indian immigrants from the industrialized process of wholesale exploitation.

Today, Aman Kapoor, President of Immigration Voice, issued the following statement in response to the Biden administration’s decision to allow employers of H-1B visa holders to begin registration online for the H1-B Visa lottery, starting March 9th 2021, for the fiscal year 2022.

“Each year, the United States conducts a lottery to admit approximately 85,000 new H-1B Visa workers on what are known as “dual-intent work visas." These H-1B visas allow workers to enter the United States to work in high-skilled occupations with the intention of ultimately receiving lawful permanent residency (Green Cards) if they perform well on the job. Each year, approximately 70% of those new visas (or nearly 60,000 visas) are issued to workers from India, many of whom enter the United States with their spouses and minor children, with dreams of pursuing a better life for their family and fulfilling their American Dream by working hard and playing by the rules. At the same time, discriminatory per-country limits established during the time of segregation, restrict Indian nationals to receive only 8,400 of the 120,000 employment-based Green Cards available each year.”

“As we speak, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service tells us that this discriminatory and arbitrary cap on the number of Indian nationals who can receive lawful permanent residency each year has created a backlog of over 1 million people waiting for Green Cards, with a wait time of over 195 years. In fiscal year 2030, the line is expected to grow to 436 years. A majority of the Green Card backlog consists of women and children, who will eventually die in these backlogs. Needless to say, the per-country limits on the employment-based green card system are, in fact, 100%, an “Indian Exclusion Act." In reality, this implies a de facto ban on employment-based Green Cards for any new Indian national entering the United States on an H-1B visa. It means that if Vice-President Kamala Harris’ mother had come to the United States today, under such a system, she would never have gotten a Green Card in her lifetime. The course of Shyamala Gopalan’s daughter’s life would have been entirely different if she had been preoccupied with her mother’s possible deportation, as opposed to living her life as an American."

“This current de facto ban creates terrible and traumatic real-world consequences. Almost every day, we hear reports that one of our members has died while in the backlog, leaving their spouse and children without immigration status such that they must immediately self-deport to India or face actual deportation or life in illegal status. Every day, we hear from members with homes and families in the United States who are stuck in India because they traveled to perform the last rites for their deceased mother, father, or a relative, and now cannot get a visa appointment, or their visa stamp has been arbitrarily denied by a United States consulate in India. Every day, we hear from members who say they have held the same job for 15 years and USCIS has suddenly declared they don’t have the right education to do the same job they have been successfully doing for 15 years. Therefore, they are forced to immediately leave the Unite States with their spouse and kids, or they will all be in illegal status. Every day, we hear from members who say they thought they had two more years of H-1B status left, but the last time they came to the airport, their passport only had 6 months of validity, so their stay was cut short by CBP, and now they are subject to illegal status and are facing a 10-year ban from re-entering the United States. Every day we hear from members saying that their employer is sexually harassing them, and they can’t do anything out of fear they will lose their employer-sponsored visa, and their kids will be forced back to India. Finally, and most commonly, every day, we hear from people who cannot resign from jobs where they are exploited by their employers, who cannot get promotions in jobs despite their qualifications, cannot start companies based on their innovative ideas, and cannot develop their own world-changing patents. Due to the per-country limits on Employment-Based Green Cards, the current system is legalized form of indentured servitude that promotes the interest of a handful of employers and perpetrates an industrialized process of wholesale exploitation of skilled Indian immigrants. Such a glorified system of indentured servitude cannot be labeled as a just immigration system.”

“If the current law is not changed, we will soon have the situation where there will be hundreds of thousands of people in senior citizen status working in Silicon Valley. Companies will be left to decide whether to retain these employees for the rest of their lives so as to not cause their deportation or to terminate their employment and cause their deportation when they are no longer able to perform their jobs due to declining health. Only high-skilled workers that are born in India face such discrimination. Workers from virtually every other country can obtain lawful permanent residency within 1 year of entering the United States. Clearly, the current system has deeply racist outcomes targeting immigrants from India.”

“This is an unconscionable scenario that has been allowed to exist for far too long by lawmakers looking to score political points rather than actually solve this practical problem that they all purport to care about solving. Under this system, over 60,000 additional Indian nationals will unwittingly be lured to enter the United States this year (and every year) to engage in a life of indentured servitude where their very existence and the lives of their families will be completely subject to the whims of their employer, new administrations, or even individual immigration adjudicators having a bad day. The membership of Immigration Voice has decided they can no longer stand idly by and watch new people unknowingly enter a life of such trauma, despair, and suffering when they think they are actually on a path to achieving the American Dream.”

“As such, this year, Immigration Voice is now calling on the Biden Administration to use its authority under INA Section 212(f) to exclude any new individual born in India who are not currently in the United States legally from obtaining a new H-1B visa for the first time in Fiscal Year 2022. Moreover, Immigration Voice calls to stop issuing such new H-1B visas until the discriminatory per county limits on Employment-Based Green Cards are finally lifted and immigrants from India are no longer treated as indentured servants in the United States. In the current system, the only people who benefit are unscrupulous employers, staffing companies across various industries who profit enormously from maintaining the status quo, and immigration lawyers who profit from being able to process the maximum number of immigration applications possible by keeping Indian immigrants tied to an endless line of renewals of H-1B visa applications while also double-dipping to keep the Green Card pool open for people from other countries. Equal rights for all would mean a reduction in work by 50% for most immigration lawyers, and so they vigorously act to oppose a bill they should support under any normal humanitarian circumstance.”

“Until the United States law treats all human beings equally as promised by the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the United States should stop accepting people to come here to live as third-class visitors with no rights other than fulfilling every demand of their employer or suffer the consequences of deportation. Such a situation is unacceptable. If the Biden Administration and Congressional leaders refuse to act to fix this inequity and inequality in the system with a bill that passed both the House and the Senate in 2020, the least they can do is not to expose any more people to this unjust system that only builds cynicism and resentment rather than hope and love for the United States.”

“There is no purpose in quoting Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and President Abraham Lincoln in their daily speeches if Congressional Leaders refuse to live up to the ideals of such quotes. Immigration Voice will be carefully watching the conduct of those in charge. If people do not act quickly to change the status quo, we will view those leaders as endorsing the current racially-biased discriminatory system. Only if they act quickly to end per-country limits or at least end the human suffering of new people entering this horrific system, they will be viewed as our allies in the quest to reduce the human suffering of those in the discriminatory green card backlog.”

Immigration Voice is a national non-profit organization with over 130,000 members, who are tax-paying, law-abiding, high-skilled immigrants, that advocates for the alleviation of restrictions on employment, travel, and working conditions faced by legal high-skilled immigrants in the United States working as doctors, researchers, scientists, engineers, and other high-skilled professionals at many of America's hospitals, universities and Fortune 500 companies.

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Vikram Desai
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