After coming to the United States from India and earning a doctorate degree, Dr. Dayanand Kiran obtained a temporary worker visa a decade ago and moved his family to Crawfordsville to start his career as a physical therapist in long-term care facilities.
Kiran is waiting his turn to apply for a green card — but under the current system, the opportunity won’t come in his lifetime.
“If I applied today, I have to wait 195 years to get through my line,” he said.
Kiran and other immigrants with advanced degrees would benefit from a proposed change to the allocation of employment-based visas being negotiated by lawmakers that would reduce the backlog for Indian and Chinese visa applications, but create longer wait times for immigrants from all other countries.
The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act would remove the country-based cap on the visas and change the application process to a first-come, first-serve basis. Currently, no more than 7% of high-skilled immigrant visas go to a single country each year.
“I believe that the U.S. represents fairness and equality and that’s what we seek from the Congress, from the Senate and from the president and, lastly, the people of the United States,” Kiran said.
If his green card doesn’t arrive by the time his high school-aged daughter, who was born in India, turns 21, she’ll be required to self-deport, Kiran said. He and his wife Neelam’s other daughter, a third grader, was born in the United States.
Kiran, who works at The Lane House and volunteers with the Montgomery County Free Clinic, regularly checks the State Department’s visa bulletin for his priority date to obtain permanent residency.
About 140,000 employment-based visas are given to high-skilled workers every year. It currently takes less than a year for immigrants from countries other than India or China to receive a visa.
Advocates for Latin American immigrants have spoken out against the bill.
“If you’re a Colombian who is one of the leading authorities in the world on climate change and you want to apply today to get a visa, [you’re] going to wait 10, 20 or even 30 years,” Ira Kurzban, a Miami immigration attorney, told the Miami Herald for a story about the bill.