September 30, 2015
Without seemingly considering the ramifications for potential green-card applicants and immigration lawyers alike, the United States government reneged on their qualifying dates for applicants looking to start the process for acquiring permanent residence for the October Visa Bulletin. The changes to the bulletin happened but 12 business days after a previous agreement was reached.
In doing so, thousands of families, those on H-1B visas working in the United States, were affected negatively. Several thousand workers were pleased to hear of the new agreement on Sept. 9, which allowed those who had their priority dates in 2011 to apply for permanent residence, only to have the rug ripped out from under them just over two weeks favoring those whose priority dates were entered in 2009.
The 12 business-day waiting period was more than enough time for many families to start the application process, spending hard-earned money and taking time out of their daily lives, in order to prepare for filing their I-485 applications. Had the government reformed the October Visa Bulletin just a couple days, or even hours, following the initial and supported changes, it would have been better for families and businessmen alike. Immigration law firms are also greatly affected after this sudden change, as thousands of dollars in potential business for firms around the country are lost. As a result, American businesses are losing capital.
Along with simply losing the peace-of-mind and long term security, prospective applicants lost out on the ability to acquire travel documents. Also, if these noncitizens were able to apply for their adjustment of status applications, they would be able to gain eligibility to pursue other employment opportunities within the United States.
The revised filing dates for the EB-2 applicants will affect those from India and China, the countries with the largest back-logs and populations, the most. An overwhelming amount of those particular applicants would have been able to begin an application process with the priority date set at July 1, 2011. With it changed to July 1, 2009, those same applicants will now be forced to change their mind-set and future after a failed attempt at getting the process for permanent residence started. Some numbers say eligible applicants for an adjustment of status application fell by as much as 90%.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the U.S. Department of State and other government officials could face a suit in federal court due to the suddenness of the change in the law and with how it affected so many lives. Many would-be applicants already have filed a class-action lawsuit against said officials. Those who made this change have yet to truly justify their abrupt actions, aside from the fact that the sheer demand for visas is far over America’s limits. But that does not change the fact that prospective applicants have to wait years, sometimes even the better part of a decade, to even apply. The numbers continue to grow as each year
Along with the ramifications of the change that appear on paper, many of those involved have concerns over how much the United States is committed to reforming immigration policies so that those who are in this position going forward can have an easier process to reach the goal of becoming a full citizen. Specialized employees of American companies are working hard in an attempt to fully commit to their life in the United States, but are being stopped after they have already entered the gate.