Everything you wanted to know about Visa Bulletin Equality
Visa bulletin equality is a name given to the proposal by Congressmen Krishnamoorthi and Bucshon who have lead a bipartisan group of 56 Congresspeople to write a letter to President Biden to use his executive powers to advance visa bulletin dates so that everyone waiting for their greencard can immediately file the paperwork instead of waiting for 10+ and in some cases 100+ years based on which country they were born. Since the waiting period is a vestige of the racial discrimination US Congress engaged in past, such a proposal is called "equality" because it reduces the impact of per country discrimination primarily faced by people born in India and to some extent China.
In year 1920, US Congress passed laws to stop non white people from immigrating to USA. Each country was given a cap and white nations were given a higher cap of immigration. This racism continued post ww2 and in 1960s US Congress decided to repeal this law and remove the restrictions on immigration entirely with an important caveat. The caps were moved to the eligibility step of citizenship that is the green card or permanent residentship. Also, it was worded to not sound racist but in reality designed to keep Indians and Chinese out.
The restriciton was that, no country would get more than 7% of total greencards availables. The country here implies to the country of birth of the individual seeking greencard. What this means is that the individual can qualify or even apply for greencard but he wont get it unless there is quota available. Also, people would get it based on first come and first serve. This sort of discrimination was pointless besides being completely driven by racism and fear of brown people.
However with time the Indian citizens started to immigrate to USA often on the H1B visa meant for high skilled workers. The cream of Indian society rapidly immigrated to USA becoming one of the wealthiest community in USA. Any employee on H1B if found valuable can be sponsored for green card by their employeer. H1B visa is valid only for max 6 years. When the employer applies for the green card, the individual is given a date of application. That determines their position in the greencard queue.
Each month USCIS publishes what we refer to as "visa bulletin" that tells us which is the earliest date they are processing for all nationalities. For Indians this date has been howevering around 2012-14 for nearly 10 years now.
But USA needs these Indian workers. So they came up with a new law. Allow Indians to renew their H1B as long as they have to wait in that greencard queue. The queue however is 100+ years long now which means these Indians will be renewing their H1B visa every three years forever.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The visa is subject to an annual cap of 65,000 visas, with an additional 20,000 visas available for workers with a master's degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.
H-1B visas are highly restrictive. The visa holder must be employed by the employer that filed the visa petition, and they can only work in the location that is specified on the visa. The visa holder cannot start their own business, run a business, or take up more than one job. The visa holder's children are not allowed to work in the United States, and the visa holder cannot sponsor their parents or siblings for immigration to the United States.
The restrictions on H-1B visas have been criticized by some as being unfair to foreign workers. However, the restrictions are designed to protect U.S. workers and to ensure that H-1B visas are used for their intended purpose. Since India is a large country that sends a lot of high skilled workers to USA, only they are impacted by this along with China.
Visa bulletin is a table published by USCIS which is the federal agency tasked to do all the visa processing.
The table shows that there is a significant backlog of green card applications for Indian nationals in the EB-2 category. This means that Indian nationals who applied for a green card in this category before 2014 are likely to be able to obtain one, while those who applied after 2014 may have to wait many years.
In contrast, there is no backlog for Pakistani and Ghanaian nationals in the EB-2 category. This means that these nationals who apply for a green card are likely to be able to obtain one relatively quickly.
The reason for the backlog for Indian nationals is due to the fact that there are more Indian nationals applying for green cards in this category than there are available slots. This is because India has a large population and a high number of highly skilled workers.
The backlog is a significant problem for Indian nationals who are looking to immigrate to the United States. It can cause them to have to wait many years to obtain a green card, which can make it difficult for them to plan their lives and careers.
Note that this Pakistani or Ghana born individual need not even be in USA where as Indians who are in USA for more than 10 years aren't eligible to get their greencard.
Coongressman Raja Krishnamoorthi's proposal is a very simple proposal that relies on something that the White house did in past.
Allowing all immigrants with an approved employment-based immigrant petition to file their applications as soon as the new fiscal year begins would ensure that all available green cards are used each year, the 58 House members said in a letter Friday.
Although an earlier application date wouldn’t necessarily mean that individuals secure permanent residency sooner, it would allow those immigrants to get interim relief like greater flexibility for employment and travel outside the US while they wait for their green cards.
Bureaucratic delays in the legal immigration system hold back the economy and leave many families in limbo, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), one of the main signatories of the letter, said in a statement.
The proposal states that at the start of the fiscal year, which for USCIS begins in October, all dates should be set to "current," meaning October 2023 for all nationalities. This would mean that all Indian citizens in the backlog would qualify for a green card, and they could begin the paperwork and submit the fees to the USCIS.
However, given the 7% limit, the USCIS would not be able to grant all of these individuals green cards immediately. Instead, they would grant them two things:
- An EAD, or employment authorization document, which would allow them full economic freedom to quit their jobs, start businesses, or do whatever they want.
- Advance parole, a document that would allow them to leave the country at any time and come back later.
This would mean that these individuals would no longer have to be on H1B visas, which restrict their movement and create massive queues at airports and consulates abroad. It would also enable them to start businesses and change jobs more easily, making the job market more competitive.
The question however is if this is legal for white house to do. So far we have not seen anything that indicates President Biden does not have this authority. On the contrary there is a precedet for this sort of action in past.
This fact is critical, because between FY 1992 and FY 2021, the federal government failed to issue at least 194,100 available employment-based green cards. There is historical precedent to utilizing the visa bulletin to gauge interest in green cards, such as when President George W. Bush and his administration marked all dates as current in the July 2007 Visa Bulletin.
In world of regulations, having a precedent on your side is a big confirmation that the court wont even consider a challenge to such regulatory move.
Indians on H1B benefits lot of people in USA. These people have figured out profiting off the back of other people's misfortune while secretly planning that misfortune themselves.
If Indians don't have to renew their H1B every three years then immigration lawyers stand to lose their business. They have often abused Indians demanding equality and conspired to make the visa process more complicated in past. However not all lawyers are in this boat. Some folks like immigration attonery Leon Fresco has been a big champion of this proposal.
US software industry has these bodyshopper consultancies which have for many years exploited Indian citizens. Since large companies do not want to deal with complex visa process they like to outsource this work to these companies willing to do the legal work of visa filing etc. and use these Indian citizens as their contractors. These companeis then take a 20% cut on everything that the employee earns.
These consultancies have formed groups to oppose any reform to this discriminatory and racist system.
Several pro abortion groups and anti immigration nativist groups have common founders. They have often conspired to abuse Indians online, by publishing poor quality hitjobs against politicians like Congressman Krishnamoorthi, Senator Mike Lee and anyone else who has taken up this cause. They are however driven less by self interest and more by their ideology of hatred.
Indian citizens in USA have earned good reputation. This has damaged many anti-India forces such as far left ideologues, communists and Islamist organizations. They have accused Indians of all sort of crimes without evidence and have tried to pass laws like SB403 in california that will force Indian citizens to racial profiling based on their religion and caste. They have actively worked in DC to hurt any efforts to bring immigration changes.
It is very important that you should contribute to this cause. You can take following steps every single day.
- Call up your local Congressperson and tell their staff that you want them to sign Mr. Krishnamoorthi's letter and also publicly tweet their support for this letter. You can get contact number of your Congressperon here. Do this for the House Representative and both the Senators of your state.
- Also you should write a paper letter and send it to all three.
- Get your friends also to do the same. Your friends need not be Indian born either. Anyone who aligns with our cause can do this.
- Use social media to promote this as well.
- If you get an opportunity form a group and go and meet your Congressperon after getting an appointment.
Important: People coming from India often are not used to responsive politicians and might be scared to call up politicians. However, in USA this is both simple, perfectly legal and effective method. All the politicians have dedicated staff who pick up the call, talk very politely and write down your message. They also summarize this and give it to their boss later so that they know what are important issues.
- Only contact your representatives.
- Always be very polite and talk very respectfully. If you are unsure what to say, write down what you want to say and read it.
- Thank the person on other other side of the phone. Afterall they are the ones who will pass your message to the politician.
- When writing to them, give your personal story. Tell them about you, your spouse and your children. Tell them why you are a good human being who should not be discriminated against.
- At no point on any medium use slangs, impolie language or any kind of uncivil behaviour. Remember you represent a much wider group.
This website is run by volunteers and we are not funded or supported by any advocacy group. We believe that when injustice hurts you, you should stand up for yourself and your family and the values you care about. If others stand with you it is good but don't look at others to fight your battles.
- Immigration attorney Leon Fresco
- Cato Institutes Seminal article on the 150 year long backlog
- David Bier is a Cato Institute scholar covering this issue passionately and with very high standards of research
- Cato Institute created a game to explain how complex is the green card process in USA
- Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi's statement coverage