Removing Bottlenecks in the Visa Process
By Felicia Escobar
Thank you for signing the petition "Allow Seriously Backlogged EB2/EB3 Beneficiaries with Their I-140 Approved to File I-485 and Apply for EAD & AP."
The Obama Administration is committed to removing bottlenecks in the current process so that both applicants and businesses can meaningfully participate in our existing immigrant and nonimmigrant visa systems. Due to an outdated visa system that only Congress can change, too many of the world's brightest entrepreneurial minds are not allowed to come to the United States or stay here and thrive. Some have come to the United States, received training at our excellent universities, and then been required to leave. Others simply have been unable to find a path here in the first place.
Today, many I-140 approved beneficiaries from countries such as China and India must wait several years for a visa to become available because of statutory limits on the number of visas that can be issued to nationals of a particular country in a given fiscal year. The proposal outlined in this petition asks that beneficiaries of approved I-140 immigrant worker petitions be allowed to apply for adjustment of status while they wait for visas to become available, which would allow the accompanying interim benefits of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and Advance Parole -- in other words, the ability to work in the United States and to leave the United States and return while awaiting a visa. Unfortunately, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) cannot change the statutory requirement that a visa must be immediately available at the time an individual is allowed to file an application to adjust their status. This proposed reform can only be made by Congress through changes to the law.
Over the past year, top Administration officials have traveled throughout the country to talk with thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners as part of listening sessions organized by the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the White House Business Council, and the White House Startup America Initiative. The message we hear is resounding: our Nation's immigration system is broken and must be reformed.
The President has outlined his vision for restoring responsibility and accountability to the broken immigration system in the Blueprint for Immigration Reform (pdf), which outlines the challenges we must tackle and the solutions we must implement if we are to build a 21st century immigration system. The President believes that this will require:
- Continuing to make border security the responsibility and priority of the federal government;
- Holding accountable businesses that break the law by exploiting undocumented workers;
- Making those living in the United States illegally take responsibility for their actions, before they can get on a path to legalization, by passing a background check, paying fines, paying taxes, and getting right with the law; and
- Strengthening our economic competiveness by creating a legal immigration system that meets our 21st century economic and security needs. This includes making reforms to the existing employment- and family-based immigration system, including existing caps to ensure successful high-skilled immigrants are able to remain in the U.S. permanently.
The President is willing to sit down with any Congressional leader -- Republican, Democrat, or Independent -- who shares his commitment to fixing the broken immigration system so that it meets America's economic and security needs. We need leaders who are willing to engage in a constructive policy debate on this important issue.
As we continue to build support for legislative reform, the Administration will continually look for ways to improve the current immigration system, and we have proposed several important changes in the past several months. Recently, USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas joined the President's Council on Jobs and Competiveness in Pittsburgh to announce the "Entrepreneurs in Residence" initiative, which will utilize industry expertise to strengthen USCIS policies and practices surrounding immigrant investors, entrepreneurs, and workers with specialized skills, knowledge or abilities.
You can continue to act and help the Administration make lasting change to immigration. President Obama has called for a national conversation on immigration reform that builds a bipartisan consensus to fix our broken immigration system so it works for America's 21st century economy. But he can't do it alone. Over the last several months, dozens of communities have answered his call, holding meetings with local business leaders, faith leaders, law enforcement leaders and others to discuss the changes necessary to create a 21st century immigration system. He is asking you and other Americans to continue the conversation in your community by hosting a roundtable. Find out more and tell us about your roundtable at http://www.whitehouse.gov/immigration.
Thank you for making your voice heard. We greatly appreciate your interest and hope that you continue to share your views with the Administration.
Felicia Escobar is Senior Policy Advisor for the Domestic Policy Council