EB-1 visas halted for Chi­nese, In­di­ans

Visas des­ig­nated for ex­cep­tional tal­ent put on tem­po­rary hold by State Dept

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By AMY HE in New York amyhe@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

The US State De­part­ment has tem­porar­ily halted EB-1 visa ap­pli­ca­tions from Chi­nese and In­dian na­tion­als due to a “dra­matic in­crease” in world­wide de­mand for the visas, which are granted to im­mi­grants with ex­tra­or­di­nary abil­i­ties or skills and want to live in the US.

A State De­part­ment spokesper­son told China Daily in an email that it halted the ap­pli­ca­tion process to make sure it does not ex­ceed the al­lot­ted an­nual limit, which is about 40,000 for the fis­cal year run­ning from Oc­to­ber to Oc­to­ber. No more than 7 per­cent of visas can go to ap­pli­cants from any one coun­try, which means 2,800 each for China and In­dia.

“Not all coun­tries’ na­tion­als ap­ply in suf­fi­cient num­bers to meet these lim­its, leav­ing ex­tra visas left over,” the spokesper­son said. “To as­sure these visas are used, our ex­perts make cal­cu­la­tions based on cur­rent de­mand and open up the ex­tra visas to na­tion­als of coun­tries, such as In­dia and China, which have al­ready met their per-coun­try an­nual limit.”

“In re­cent years, China and In­dia have ben­e­fit­ted from our mak­ing these ex­tra visas avail­able, but be­cause of the in­crease in de­mand and the fact that na­tion­als of these coun­tries have al­ready reached their per­coun­try an­nual lim­its, we are re­quired to tem­porar­ily stop is­su­ing visas to Chi­nese and In­dian na­tion­als,” the spokesper­son added.

The EB-1 visa is granted to ap­pli­cants in three cat­e­gories: those with ex­tra­or­di­nary abil­ity, out­stand­ing pro­fes­sors and re­searchers, and multi­na­tional man­agers or ex­ec­u­tives who may be trans­fer­ring from one branch of their com­pany to an­other.

The tem­po­rary halt does not come with any im­me­di­ate re­stric­tions. Those who filed a pe­ti­tion for the visa can still get their em­ploy­ment and travel doc­u­ments, but ap­pli­cants can­not get to the next step of the process — the ac­tual green card ap­pli­ca­tion — un­til the halt is re­set in Oc­to­ber, ac­cord­ing to im­mi­gra­tion lawyers.

Any­one with an approved pe­ti­tion is not al­lowed to ap­ply for an ad­just­ment of sta­tus or a visa un­til more be­come avail­able in Oc­to­ber.

“They’ll have the em­ploy­ment and travel doc­u­ment, and they’ll be able to work with­out be­ing spon­sored, so it gives them a lot of flex­i­bil­ity any­way. They do have to keep work­ing in their field, but that’s the only lim­i­ta­tion,” said Mer­rill Co­hen, a New York-based im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­ney.

“We’ve been do­ing EB-1 and na­tional in­ter­est visas, but now we just have to ad­vise peo­ple that they’re not go­ing to get their green cards any­time soon, if they’re Chi­nese or In­dian,” she said.

We have to ad­vise peo­ple that they’re not go­ing to get their green cards any­time soon.” Mer­rill Co­hen, im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­ney

So­phie Al­corn, a Moun­tain View, Cal­i­for­nia-based im­mi­gra­tion lawyer with a prac­tice geared to­wards Sil­i­con Val­ley’s im­mi­gra­tion needs, said that for for­eign na­tional work­ers strug­gling to get a green card on the H-1B track, EB-1 is a sec­ond op­tion to try and get it faster.

Wil­liam Stock, a part­ner at Klasko Im­mi­gra­tion Law Part­ners, said that like other visa cat­e­gories, there is a con­stant back­log of EB-1 ap­pli­ca­tions and there is prece­dent for the State De­part­ment’s ac­tion: the last time ap­pli­ca­tions were halted was in 2007.

The EB-1 visa is not as highly politi­cized as the EB-5, which ba­si­cally sells green cards to peo­ple wealthy enough to in­vest $500,000 to $1 mil­lion in the US and has faced a back­lash in the Repub­li­can-led Congress. Im­mi­gra­tion lawyers said the EB-1 helps bring work­ers of value to the US.

“Im­mi­gra­tion is a sign of a na­tion’s health,” Stock said. “The more we close off peo­ple from com­ing to the United States, the more we’re go­ing to hurt our own econ­omy. I think it’s a great strength that we are open to im­mi­gra­tion to peo­ple from all over the world. Clearly, these cat­e­gories are de­signed for peo­ple who are mak­ing a con­tri­bu­tion to Amer­i­can so­ci­ety.”

The cur­rent quo­tas came into ef­fect with the 1965 Im­mi­gra­tion and Na­tion­al­ity Act, which cre­ated a pref­er­ence sys­tem based on im­mi­grants’ skills and fam­ily re­la­tions, and though not po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated, chang­ing the quo­tas will “cer­tainly be based on pol­i­tics,” said Al­corn.

“They’re com­pletely racist and out­dated and lim­ited”, at this point, she added.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.