Green card gridlock – Half a million highly skilled people in the USA are stuck – please help

Updated Sep 24, 2007: Vamsi has posted some interesting observations on his blog after attending the rally. Check it out.

Updated Sep 17, 2007: This post has been Desipundited. Thanks a lot Ash.

I am writing this at the behest of Vamsi Poondla, a colleague, who is the Florida state leader in the Immigration Voice organization. If you are in the USA and you don’t have a Green Card yet, you may want to pay attention and take action.

Immigration Voice is a not-for-profit organization that has been founded to urge Congress to change immigration laws that have become antiquated.

Washington Post profiled Aman Kapoor, the founder of Immigration Voice. The story is inspiring to read, even if this issue doesn’t matter to you.

Immigration Voice volunteers used an innovative campaign based on Gandhigiri techniques. They sent lots of roses to immigration officials in protest. The complete archive of this innovative campaign which received lots of press coverage is here.

The two core issues that they want the law makers to address are (from the immigration voice website):

1. Green Card Delays and Backlogs :

The Employment based green card system is completely broken due to excessive delays and backlogs in petitions of nearly half a million highly skilled workers who are certified by US Government to be doing a job that no US citizen is willing, qualified or able to do. The delays in obtained permanent residency are due to 2 reasons: Numerical caps on employment-based green cards and processing delays in adjudication of files. Today the system takes anywhere between 6-12 years to grant Green cards to some of the best and brightest of the world who have chosen America as their future home.

These future Americans are facing huge quality of life issues and their employers are facing difficulty in attracting more of the best and brightest of the world due to the broken system. The system prevents these workers from accepting promotions and switching jobs for the time-period it takes to process their files. By stagnating career growth and suffocating the creativity of the most innovative and technical minds of the world, America is creating a class of future Americans, who would see no career growth for 6-12 years and making under-achievers of these individuals.

The pressure on these individuals to go back to their home countries are increasingly each day as many world economies, especially India and China are booming and they also happen to be the country of origin of more than half of these skilled foreign-born workforce. If America delays reform of the broken system of employment based immigration, the pressure on these individuals to go back would neutralize the incentive to wait here and tough it out with the broken system. It would result in a reverse brain drain where the talent and human capital flows from developed west to the burgeoning Asian economies. The reverse brain drain would exacerbate the effects of overseas outsourcing on economy. These future Americans have waited for reform for more than 2 years but congress hasn’t reformed the system yet. The fight for the best and brightest in the world is America’s to lose.

2. The Per-Country rationing of green cards that exacerbates the delays :

Today, the employment based skilled immigrants face more backlogs if they are from India, China, Mexico or Philippines than what backlogs they would face if they were born anywhere but these 4 countries. This is due to the fact that green cards from the annual quota are rationed at 7% per country. Unused visas from the remaining countries that don’t use the 7% allocated visas are mostly never allotted to these 4 countries that have the highest number of scientists, engineers and technology workers willing to make America their future home. It is discriminatory to have laws that subject immigrants from 4 nations to more backlogs and the resulting hardship from such backlogs.

America has had per-country ceilings since decades on family based and diversity-lottery based visas and it makes sense to have uniform distribution of visas to countries where the basis for immigration is family relationship and family reunification. However, in the employment based immigration system, the petitioner is the employer who wants the retain the employee and facilitate employee retention based on skills, knowledge, education and talent. Employability has nothing to do country of birth. We do not allow employers to discriminate hiring based on their nationality or country of origin. Therefore, the employment-based immigration, which is a derivative benefit of employment, should also be free from rationing based on nationality or country of birth.

How can you contribute? You can make donations or you can volunteer. As Vamsi has shown, you can get involved directly like him. You can also write blog posts and do other things to raise visibility for the cause.

The organization is planning a protest rally on Sep 18th in Washington DC. If you are in that area, you can participate in the rally.

I am happy to see people taking action on key issues like this instead of suffering silently. Hopefully the US Congress will wake up and fix the issue.

Further reading:

1. Times of India covering the Green Card Gridlock I copied my subject line from here.


  1. Vamsi, I am really proud of you. As a community, we are known for taking things lying down and never object to being treated badly. I have seen that even in the US consulate here.

    I am glad we are finally changing and taking a stand against issues which are affecting us. I particularly liked the Gandhigiri technique. I wish you all the best for success in your campaign.

    Sukumar, thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks Archana. You’re right. We as a community should stand up for our issues more and people like Vamsi show the way. – Sukumar

  3. Vamsi,

    On behalf of all the Indians in America who are affected by the green card backlog, I thank you.

    As you know there are a lot of folks in IBM who are affected by this and participated in the “protest via roses”. If you need to get in contact with the folks in IBM who are leading this cause, please let me know.

    I hope the US government realizes the impact this issue is having with respect to reverse brain drain. This backlog, bureaucracy combined with the emergence of India as an economic power, improved lifestyle etc. is forcing highly qualified and skilled workers to leave America. They simply do not want to go through this process and would rather leave US than stick through the nightmare.


  4. Thanks Ganesh. Thanks for the link as well. I had not seen that article on reverse brain drain.

  5. Hi Sukumar,

    Congrats on this post featuring in Desipundit. In case you have not looked it up, here is the link (

  6. That’s a noble venture by Vamsi. Let’s hope Congress wakes up and do something.

  7. The last comment was by me. – 146383

  8. Anonymous said September 17, 2007, 1:55 am:

    Thanks Archana. I have updated the post and included the link to Desipundit.

  9. Thanks Sukumar, Archana, Ganesh, Andy, for all your support and encouraging words. Today was a very productive day at Capitol hill. IV organized lobby day today where we had appointments with over 134 congressmen. I met 7 house members legal aides and some pages at their offices. I also met tow senators legislative staff. These meetings were extremely insightful of how congressmen perceived immigration issues and we could do some active lobbying to advocate our cause. Also met Congressman Allen Boyd, Attorney Sheila Murthy and other pro-immigration personalities at a social gathering.

  10. Wow Vamsi. You are going places. You said you got some good insights on how they perceived immigration issues. Could you elaborate?

  11. That’s great Vamsi. Like Archana, i am also curious as to what insights you got. Please elaborate when you find the time. – Sukumar

  12. Sorry for the late reply. I posted my comments at Please let me know your opinion.

  13. Anonymous said September 24, 2007, 7:14 am:

    Thanks Vamsi. I have updated my post to link to your post.

  14. Anonymous said October 28, 2007, 10:30 am:

    My name is Alohonova Mehrinso.I am from Uzbekistan. I won in Green Card. I and my family live in Pensilvania from 2006. I have 3 children. My daughter Qilicheva Mohinur was born in 1999, my son Qilichev Orifhon was born in 2003 and little daughter Qilicheva Mahliyo was born in 2004.18.november. As my little daughter Qilicheva Mahliyo was young at the time. I could not Brought her with myself together. now she is under the care of my mother. As my mother is health is bad. I want to bring her to the USA. What must I do in this condition? Please show me direction! I am eager to your ansver. My adress: 5027 National pike Marklesburg. Pa-15459-1005. case number 2006 eu 00010914


  15. Anonymous said October 30, 2007, 11:08 am:

    Hi Alohonova Mehrinso,

    Your daughter ideally should have got the Green Card when you got the lottery. Since that did not happen, you are now left with one choice – Family based Green Card under F2 category. You need to contact an immigration lawyer who will help you with this.

    Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (over age 20) of lawful permanent residents. (114,200) At least seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children; the remainder will be allocated to unmarried sons and daughters.

    Note – Keep in mind that the Family based visa category is not current as per the latest Visa Bulletin This means, people who applied for their children in 15 DEC 2002 are currently getting Green Cards. This could mean a wait of approx 5 years. (I am sorry) But you should meet a qualified immigration lawyer who can give more clear advice of the options you have.

  16. Anonymous said October 31, 2007, 7:48 pm:

    Thanks for responding Vamsi. Alohnova, hope that helps. Wish you all the best in getting your daughter a green card quickly.