Once the children of Indian H-1B work visa holders turn 21, they will no longer be able to continue with their H-4 visas meant for dependents. Either they will have to get an international student visa to continue their studies or self-deport to India.
The US Senate has recently obstructed one of the two bills (S386) that seek to remove the per-country green card limit. This will affect the children of India H-1B work visa holder parent who have attained the age of 21 years as they may soon have to secure international students visa to continue with their studies in the US or self-deport to India.
The children of H-1B work visa holders till now are staying on H-4 dependent visas tied to the working visas of their parents. The children turning 21 are still studying and with this rule they will have no choice but to apply for an F-1 international student visa to continue their studies in the US. Moreover, there is no surety of getting an F-1 visa and also even if they obtain an F-1 visa, they lose out on scholarship benefits and aren’t allowed to seek admission in most medical schools.
The main cause behind this issue is the long waiting-time for green cards. The US has set an annual quota of 140,000 green cards for employment-based applicants and also put a cap of seven percent limit for every country. This new policy will affect the huge Indian population in the US who hold H-1B visa.
Cyrus Mehta, founder of a New York-based immigration law firm said, “Unlike people born in other countries, those born in India are subject to a decade long backlog. So most other nationals get their green card within the six-year term of the H-1B, but not Indians.”
According to a report, nearly 632,000 Indians are on the waiting list for green card in employment based immigration category till April 2018 which comprises 76 pc of the total employment-based green card backlog.
A US-based think tank, Cato stated,“Indian employees of US businesses (under EB2 and EB3 visa), who entered in the waiting line in 2018, have an impossible half-century-long wait.”
The F-1 visa applicants will also have to prove their non-immigrant intent in case of aged-out children which is another problem in itself. Moreover, they will also have to face problems like higher fees, lack of scholarships and no part-time working options, just like any other international student.
Arlington-based immigration advocate, Rajiv Khanna said, “Many of the cases where change to student status is requested do get approved. But there are also cases where it is rejected owing to the boilerplate reason that the student has the entire family in the US, therefore they have no ties to their home country. The life of a youngster and the family unity should not have to depend upon the ‘benevolence’ of an immigration officer.”
Many activists have shown their support for the ‘H4-dreamers’ (as the aged-out children are referred to). A community group Win Virginia’s volunteer Vikas Grover said that there is no end to the problems these kids are facing. He has arranged meeting of children and their parents with senators and also advised them to write a petition about it. This has led to Senator Mark Warner to co-sponsor this bill which has given a hope to the Indians residing in US.