Hundreds rally for green card reform in city of Bellevue

Getting a green card is tougher than before for immigrants these days. During a rally on Feb. 25, over 500 people gathered at Bellevue’s Downtown Park to show support for high-skilled Indian immigrants who are stuck in the green card backlog.
GreenCard Reforms, or GC Reforms, organized the rally. It is 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.
Green card backlog has great impacts on immigrants who work as physicians, engineers, teachers, nurses and medical professionals. Since 1990, the H-1B program allows U.S. employers to hire highly skilled foreign workers for three years, so long as they have applied for green cards and renew their visas indefinitely. However, the per-country limit for immigrants to receive green cards is capped at seven percent, and people who are in this situation may need to go back to their home country to renew their H-1B visa, which is an inconvenience for foreign employees.
Vikas, whose name was changed to protect his identity, is originally from India and has an H-1B visa to work legally at Microsoft beginning in 2008. However, he has run into issues regarding his status. Every other February, Vikas begins an almost year long process of getting paperwork done, consulting the Microsoft company’s lawyers, planning to leave the U.S. and activate his new work permit. Unfortunately, he cannot simply renew his status in the U.S. instead of going back to India and flying back here. Moreover, while entering the U.S. Custom and Border Protection officers would question him, “Why do you keep renewing your visa? Why not get a green card?” even though he has been waiting for the green card for nine years. It is also possible that he will be rejected, and he would not be able to enter the U.S. to work then. “Every time you leave and apply for it, you are at the mercy of the consulate or the officer of whether they want to give you the visa or not, even though nothing has changed. Same job, same position.”
Many prominent leaders spoke at the event, including the 9th District’s Rep. Adam Smith, state Sen. Manka Dhingra, former Bellevue Mayor and King County council member Claudia Balducci and Bellevue council member Conrad Lee. GC Reforms board members Kiran Kumar Thota and Sudip Gorakshakar have conveyed that the green card backlog needs addressing urgently for the high-skilled STEM graduates of Indian people to push the United State’s economic growth.
Among those signs people held at the event 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.”