Top Chinese and Indian scientists, engineers, doctors and mathematicians are going to find the U.S. welcome mat pulled further away from their feet. Recent Department of State projections indicate the line for persons born in China or India with Master’s degrees and Ph.D.’s will be at least 5-7 years to get a green card.
Improvements in recent months offered hope to well-educated Indian and Chinese nationals who previously had to wait 5 years or longer to obtain their green cards. Now, it appears the Department of State will be retrogressing green card priority dates. Charles Oppenheim, Chief of Visa Control and Reporting Division for the Department of State, stated at a recent American Immigration Lawyers Association conference that priority dates for the Indian and Chinese EB-2 category will retrogress from May 2010 to approximately August 2007. Thus, although current green card processing times for Chinese and Indian nationals with advanced degrees is only about 2 years, expect the backlog to balloon to an unbearable 5-plus year wait.
Indian and Chinese immigrant entrepreneurs and scientists played a vital role in building Silicon Valley and high-tech into what it is today. Now, just as the U.S. economy is showing signs of recovery, we are discouraging the best and brightest from India and China by putting green cards further out of reach. As China’s competitiveness surges ahead, conservatively projecting a 2012 Gross Domestic Product of 7.5%, the U.S. cannot afford to lose those who possess the intelligence and entrepreneurial spirit to continue to spur the nation’s economic growth.
Many of these Chinese and Indian foreign nationals are U.S. educated, attending top national institutions. Enrollment of international students at U.S. institutions is at an all-time high, including 43% growth by Chinese nationals enrolling at the University level from 2010 to 2011. Does it make sense to educate international students at our top universities and medical centers and then, when at the point they are ready to contribute to our economy, say it’s time to go home?
As the visa wait line retrogresses, massive pressure will be put on certain industries, including high-tech and other critical sectors requiring top professionals and scientists from India and China. One possible solution is if Senator Grassley lifts his objection to H.R. 3012, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act. This bill levels the playing field and provides green cards on a first come first served basis and has been held up in the Senate by a single restrictionist Senator.