Twelve of the nation’s largest tech companies, including Google, Twitter, and Amazon, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, recently sent a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Alejandro Mayorkas concerning current immigration policies. These entities are asking the Biden administration to spare children of H-1B visa employees from deportation when they turn age 21.
Current Immigration Policy for H-1B Visa Workers
Children of H-1B visa workers, many of whom are tech employees, can live with their parents in the U.S. until they turn 21. If they want to remain in the U.S. after age 21, they must apply for a green card, which requires a lengthy application process. If applicants do not receive a green card in time, they must leave the country. Delays in processing green card applications became even greater during the COVID-19 pandemic when the U.S. government did not have enough workers to process green card applications. Unlike the “Dreamers,” or undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, who can apply for work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, children of H-1B visa workers have no such option.
Worker Shortage Worsens Due to Immigration Policy
The tech companies urged DHS to take action as they are experiencing difficulty filling open positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 11 million open jobs as of June 1, 2022, and only six million people are looking to fill those jobs. In addition, if children of H-1B visa workers must leave the U.S. as they turn 21, their parents may follow, which only will exacerbate the worker shortage. The tech giants also claim that the policy creates uncertainty for workers and their families as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) continues to struggle with an unprecedented backlog of green card and other immigration applications. As a result, tech companies are experiencing critical shortages and losses of highly skilled workers.
This appeal by the tech companies echoes an appeal they made last year concerning the spouses of H-1B visa holders. In May 2021, a similar group of tech companies spoke out against a court decision that would have barred these spouses from working while present in the U.S. on H-4 visas. In response, the Biden administration settled the lawsuit and reversed the policy.
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