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Indian couple sues USCIS for work permit delays

Washington, July 25 (IANS) An Indian couple waiting in a years-long backlog for a green card has initiated a lawsuit against the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) over delays in sending approved printed work permits, a media report said.

Filed in Ohio federal court on Wednesday, the lawsuit on behalf of Ranjitha Subramanya, claims that the USCIS is arbitrarily refusing to print work permit cards after approving them, leaving visa-holders unable to show their American employers that they are authorized to work in the US, the American Bazaar said in the report on Friday.

Subramanya, an Indian citizen came to the US on an H-1B specialty occupation visa to work at Nationwide Insurance.

She later changed her status to an H-4 visa, reserved for spouses of H-1B holders, through her husband’s H-1B visa, which is valid through June 2023, according to the lawsuit.

According to Subramanya’s lawyer, Robert H. Cohen, her husband, also an Indian citizen, has an approved green card petition, but the couple is stuck in a green card backlog.

Subramanya applied to extend her H-4 work permit in December 2019, and USCIS approved the request in April. Typically, the printed card is issued within a few days of the approval, the suit says.

However, despite multiple calls and requests to the agency, Subramanya still didn’t have her printed card by June, when her previous work permit expired, the American Bazaar report quoted the lawsuit as saying.

She was forced to leave her job then, and her employer has told her that she will be terminated permanently if she does not have her work permit by August.

Cohen told the media that the lawsuit was “born out of extreme frustration”.

“We’ve made every effort that we could, but USCIS is not a user-friendly agency anymore,” he was quoted as saying.

“We had just reached the end of what we could do short of filing a lawsuit.”

The suit also argues that USCIS is depriving foreign workers of the work permits they are legally owed in violation of their constitutional rights, and alleges that the agency is sitting on a backlog of at least 75,000 unprinted employment authorization documents, or EADs.

The current production backlog is roughly 115,000 green cards and employment authorization documents, CNN reported citing a USCIS spokesperson, with the oldest pending card order in the queue from July 6.

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The wait time for green cards for Indians professionals stuck in the “awful, hellish green card backlog” could go up from the current 195 years to 450 years in ten years without a comprehensive reform of the immigration system, a Republican Senator has warned. Senator Mike Lee said on Wednesday: “By the time we stretch this (backlogs) out to 2030, the 195-year backlog I mentioned a moment ago would be extended out to a 400- to 450-year backlog.” He said that for those filing for green cards “in 2020, the wait for an EB2 green card is not, in fact, 20 to 30 years for an Indian national. What is it, then? Is it 30? Is it 40, 50, 60? No, it is much longer than that. It is 195 years. This means that someone from India entering the backlog today would have to wait 195 years to receive an EB3 green card.” EB2 green cards – the permanent immigration visa leading to citizenship – are for those with advanced degrees and EB3 for skilled and professional workers. The annual green card quota for India and most countries is about 26,000. Lee gave these wait times while opposing a Democratic bill that would protect the children of those on H1-B and other employment visas who are waiting for their green cards from being deported when they turn 21. He said that with such long wait times, the children would not be able to qualify for green cards in their lifetimes and, instead, a comprehensive reform is needed. When children turn 21, they are no longer considered dependents and will lose their visa status based on their parents’ visas as well as their claim to a green card and the Protect Children of Immigrant Workers Act proposed by Democrat Senator Dick Durbin seeks to remedy this. While the cause of children who came to the US illegally has a lot of political support, the children who came in legally but reached adulthood has been under the radar and Durbin’s bill proposes a parallel remedy. Durbin said that without increasing the total number of green cards, it would not be possible to deal with the huge backlogs and the decades-long wait times. Full report on our website. Link in bio. . #greencard #backlog #greencardnews #immigration #h1bvisa #legalimmigration

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