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Immigration Law

Expert: Congress Can Fix Visa Backlog

Prof. Stephen W. Yale-Loehr, Dec. 10, 2021

"A doctor from India came to the U.S. in 2006, completed an internal medicine residency in New York, and is now working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Virginia. He has risked his own life to save hundreds of lives over the past two years — yet he remains stuck on a temporary visa, waiting to receive a green card in the country he calls home. This temporary status has caused uncertainty for him and his family and prevents him from working wherever he’s needed. In the United States, only 7 percent of green cards can go to citizens of any single country each year. As a result, I have dozens of high-skilled immigrant clients who are in a similar situation, stuck in a decades-long green card backlog, simply because they’re from a populous country. This is as much a problem for U.S. employers as it is for foreign nationals. Companies cannot remain competitive in a global economy or meet consumer demand if they can’t hire and retain the workers they need. That’s especially true given the current labor shortages and pandemic delays for visa applications and renewals. This year, there are 1.6 million immigrants in the backlog for employment-based green cards. To fix these issues, Congress needs to pass a bill that would ease the path for high-skilled workers. ... The good news is that Congress has an opportunity to fix this problem: Give unused green cards to high-skilled workers that need them and secure our country’s economic future. The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would do just that. The Senate should do the same." - Stephen Yale-Loehr is professor of immigration law practice at Cornell Law School and of counsel at Miller Mayer LLP in Ithaca, N.Y. Follow him on Twitter @syaleloehr