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Posted at: Jan 4, 2018, 12:38 AM; last updated: Jan 4, 2018, 1:45 AM (IST)

No more welcome in US

Clampdown on visa extension norms hits Indians most
No more welcome in US
Educated, talented immigrants were largely welcome in the US, till now. Indeed, it could well be argued that it was such immigrants who contributed to the edge that the US has in the field of technological excellence and even in military equipment. Recently, the rise in protectionist tendencies and right-wing politics has led to an environment that is increasingly hostile to potential immigrants. Once President Trump loudly trumpeted his objections to immigrants, he set into motion a process that is increasingly making it tougher for such persons to seek permanent residence and citizenship in their adopted country. 

A well-established norm allowed potential immigrants who applied for a green card after working in the US on H-1B visas to stay in the country even after their H-1B visas had expired. The slowdown in the process of “granting” green cards has left a massive backlog, and as a result, this particular norm allowed them to work in the US and live there, pending the grant of their permanent resident status.  Now the US Department of Homeland Security seeks to reinterpret the rule that allows such extensions. Any such change could adversely impact an estimated five lakh Indians working in the US. They would be expected to leave the country pending the resolution of their status, which could take years. Indian officials must engage in proactive diplomacy, even as they review the status of various American companies and workers in India.

The US move would be highly disruptive and discriminatory. It would also be against the WTO position on the “movement of natural persons” providing a service in a member country. H-1B visas are granted to individuals who are needed by US companies. Many have risen to head some of the global giants, especially in IT. It is rather uncharitable of the US to now seek to throw them out even as their permanent resident applications are pending. President Trump has cultivated a constituency that is increasingly xenophobic. The land of the immigrants has benefited tremendously from the fresh waves that came to its shores, more so from the highly skilled and educated citizens of other countries that decided to make the US their home. The new administration has forgotten that now.


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