Over 500 people gathered to show support for Indian high-skilled immigrants who are stuck in the green card backlog during a rally on Sunday at Bellevue’s Downtown Park.
The rally was organized by GreenCard Reforms, a national organization started in 2017 by the Indian diaspora to actively work on the backlog issue for 300,000 primary applicants, H4 Kids and H4 EAD.
The organization’s president Sampat Shivangi said this is the most important issue for the Indian diaspora in the U.S., as it impacts many physicians, engineers, teachers, nurses and medical professionals, according to a press release from GC Reforms.
Many of these high-skilled immigrants who came to the Seattle area for tech and other jobs are stuck in a potentially decades-long green card backlog.
Created in 1990, the H1-B program allows U.S. employers to hire highly skilled foreign workers for three years, but those who have applied for their green cards can renew their visas indefinitely. However, the per-country limit for immigrants to receive green cards is capped at 7 percent.
GC Reforms board members Kiran Kumar Thota and Sudip Gorakshakar have conveyed that the backlog needs to be addressed urgently for the high skilled STEM graduates of India origin to fuel the United State’s economic growth.
Many prominent leaders spoke at the event, including the 9th District’s Rep. Adam Smith, state Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), former Bellevue Mayor and King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci and Bellevue Councilmember Conrad Lee.
Among the signs that people held during the rally were messages such as “Remove Per Country Limits for employment based Green cards,” “300,000 waiting for 90 years,” “What did I do wrong,” “Break the Green Card Backlog,” “40,000 H4 kids will age out” and “Include employment based Immigration in the conversations.”
GC Reforms urged Congressman Smith to request support of this issue from Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. The organization also called on members of state Congress to work with House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte, who represents the 6th Congressional District of Virginia in the U.S. House, to bring HR 392 to a vote. This measure would eliminate the 7 percent cap on the number of high-skilled green cards issued per year.