India EB-2 Priority Dates: Congress Holds the Key to Continued Improvement

The recent India EB-2 priority date improvement announced in the May 2011 Visa Bulletin has sparked speculation regarding continued progress with the category.  Pressure is mounting on employers to file (or “re-file”) cases for employees in the EB-2 category in hopes that fresh EB-2 cases will lift their EB-3 applications from the unthinkable backlogs they’ve faced for years.  But is this much ado about nothing?  Are things really improving for the EB-2 applicants?  Before jumping to the chat rooms for answers, it might help to know the reasons for the recent progress and where this may take the category through the summer:

  • There are 2,800 visas allocated to the India EB-2 category per year.
  • Currently, approximately 20,000 known India EB-2 applicants are awaiting visas.
  • Assuming demand and the availability of visas from other categories remain constant, an India EB-2 petition filed today should anticipate a seven- to eight-year wait for a visa.
  • The recent improvement with the visa dates was the result of the availability of 12,000 unused visas from other categories that can, in part, be applied to the India EB-2 category.
  • For the May 2011 bulletin, 2,000 additional visas were allocated to the India EB-2 category, leading to the priority date improvement from 05/08/2006 to 07/01/2006.
  • The Department of State is holding back on the allocation of the remaining visas to determine post May 2011 demand – the number of EB-3 applicants re-filing their matters as EB-2 cases greatly affects the predictability of future demand in the category.
  • If demand unexpectedly jumps (i.e., more EB-3 to EB-2 filings than anticipated), the India EB-2 category could actually retrogress over the summer and fall 2011.

Needless to say, several factors affect priority date movement and, unfortunately, much of the process is driven by unknown and unpredictable variables.  Sufficient objective data is not available to help the State Department predict priority date improvement.  One thing is certain though – absent some sort of relief, the India EB-2 cases will continue to face a bleak future with total processing times of at least seven to eight years.

We instinctively blame the State Department and USCIS for our priority date problems.  We even blame our lawyers.  Cases take too long to prepare; they take too long to be decided.  We’ve all heard or thought:  “If my case was prepared as an EB-2 instead of an EB-3 or filed earlier, I would have my green card by now.”

The finger pointing, chat room tirades, terse emails and amped up conference calls might make the EB-2 candidate feel better, but the feeling is temporary, and things just keep getting worse.  Why?  Because it’s not going to do any good.  The employer, attorney, State Department and USCIS aren’t the ones who can relieve our India EB-2 woes.  The solution lies on Capitol Hill, and our elected officials need to be convinced that they can, and should, look at this issue apart from the polarized legalization debate.  Let’s remind our friends on Capitol Hill of who the India EB-2 candidate is:

  • I am educated professional who holds either the equivalent of a U.S. Master’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree with at least five years of work experience.
  • I typically earn more than $70,000 annually.
  • I pay U.S. taxes.
  • Once I receive my green card, I must always pay taxes as a U.S. resident to maintain my status, even if I am living overseas.
  • As a green card holder, I am likely to invest my savings and engage in activities that promote job growth in the U.S. economy.

It’s hard to imagine that the United States discourages highly educated and highly paid taxpayers from permanently joining our communities.  The portrait of the India EB-2 candidate is much more attractive than that of the poor, uneducated immigrants of past generations who came through Ellis Island, looking for any type of work to survive.  Yet, these immigrants were welcomed to the United States.

The time has come for the India EB-2 applicant to focus their frustrations on who can solve their problems, namely Congress.  Let our representatives know who you are and what problems you face.  The India EB-2 candidate is good for the U.S. economy, good for the workforce and good for our communities.  It’s an easy sell – just get out there and make yourselves heard.

About Erik Anderson

Erik Anderson is a Partner at Goel & Anderson, where he directs the firm's Immigrant Visa Practice, overseeing the development of case strategies to address the recruitment and transfer of human resources in the United States and overseas. In this role he manages the visa and work permit needs of international professionals, managers, and executives. He also supervises the firm staff members who handle "green card" cases for employers across the country, particularly in the Information Technology, Biotech, Insurance, Healthcare, Food and Beverage, Media, and Entertainment industries. These include labor certifications, immigrant petitions, adjustment of status, and consular processing. Erik also directs the firm's individual and family-based immigration practice areas. Prior to entering private practice, Erik was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Board of Alien Labor Certification at the U.S. Department of Labor, and today he routinely handles matters before that agency, as well as United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the U.S. Department of State, and nearly every state workforce agency in the United States.
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20 Responses to India EB-2 Priority Dates: Congress Holds the Key to Continued Improvement

  1. Mohit Seth says:

    Thx for your article , please let me know how we can support you for this.

    • Roger Khandare says:

      There is a lot that is being done by a group named as ‘Immigration Voice’. This is a grass root movement (a non profit 501 (c)(4) organization) rallying support to capture unused visa numbers over the past 20 years or so that can potentially clear this backlog. They played a crucial part in the 2007 chaos that all of us are aware of. Every once in a while they rally their troops and do capitol hill demonstrations to bring this issue to light. Probably this is the most substantial platform that EB-2 India applicants have.

  2. Mike Jones says:

    Let’s not forget that a large percentage of these EB-2s from India are already living in the U.S. and are therefore already earning a high salary and paying taxes, reducing Congress’ incentive to adjust the number of visas available each year.

  3. Bart says:

    What about all the highly educated Americans, many with Master’s degrees, who USED to earn $70K (or more) but who were replaced by H-1Bs. No thank you, time for you all to go home.

    • Gaurav says:

      Have they checked out or There are ton of technology jobs available. My company almost exclusively hires GC or citizens and it is a nightmare to find qualified americans. The highly qualified candidates are great but few and they end up at google etc. The middle area is pretty weak in america whether you admit it or not.

      Anyhow Erik, how do you think the Indian and Chinese communities work with the polificians for faster EB processing times?


      • Bart says:

        Most of the jobs listed get are either a) fake listings for several reasons (PERM ads, resume collection by bodyshops, etc.), b) listings that never answer you back if you apply because they got over 200 applicants so they go through until they get enough to interview and discard the rest. American IT is NOT back to hiring Americans in large numbers, whether you admit it or not. I know a lot of highly qualified people who are not being given the time of day from answering ads on places like Dice.

        • Raja Xavier says:


          Understand your concern and sympathize the cause. Yet, you forgot other thing 12 million illegal immigrants. If you’re to send back H1Bs back to China/India, what about 12 million? already discussions are there to legalize 12 million illegals, but certain blue/white collar american whine about the H1Bs. Is it fair? Legal H1Bs (paying proper tax) versus illegal immigrants (obviously can’t pay tax), who do you side with? if neither is the answer proceed further… In Dice/Careerbuilder/monster definitely jobs are there, obvoisuly companies are trying to hire those with low wages ($70K+) for hi-tech job, if payrate/salary is ur concern , then strive for passing a resolution on increasing the minimum wage …which will result in exodus of low-wage H1Bs (assuming companies hire them for low pay else will prefer GC/citizens). If still H1Bs are preferred you know the difference (assuming you agree no company employs someone for H1B, race or human ground). Now, still you can argue H1Bs work more hours; if it can’t be stopped you need to strive for a law passing that every tech-workers time be tracked and company’s pay accordingly (assuming that this will result in the pay difference between H1 and GC/Citizens be eliminated). Now. Companies should be able to weigh both citizens and H1Bs equally (same pay-rate, overtime pay if worked overtime, same tech capability). Now, if still companies prefer H1Bs or LEGAL IMMIGRANTS for hi-tech, it could be willingness to work extra hours (even after the overtime-pay law). So, now we are left with another option like no one should work after 8 hours and everyone should be tagged to track their working pattern. Still, we’re not lost. There’s hope …unfortunately for the companies… to move/migrate the jobs to India where the payrate is 1/10th of the payrate here with same quality (even if not they can hire two for the same work and still pay 1/5th the us pay).
          Are you there? Now what we do. Still ray of hope is there! Pass a resolution no jobs to be outsourced. Sure, the companies will not outsource work, they will open a company in India and the company will be sister/brother concern of a US company (the end product is sold from Indian/Chinese company to it’s master company…not theoratically outsourced). Now, what? Still hope is there. US can pass a law that no product can be imported…cool problem solved and lots of manufacturing needs to be done and local workers will benefit a lot! Happy! P.S: A law will be passed later to import tech/no-tech workers due to shortage of labor… and we’re now talking about re-cycling.

  4. Homer S. says:

    Some of these comments are a sad commentary on the insecurity, xenophobia, and ridiculous sense of self entitlement that punctuate why the U.S. is likely to surrender its position as the world leader in research and innovation. It’s sad to see how pathetic we have become–bashing and telling skilled immigrant workers to “go home.” H-1Bs make up a miniscule portion of the skilled workforce in the U.S., but that doesn’t stop the anti-H-1B whiners and racists from scapegoating them rather than looking inward and improving their own skills.

    • Bart says:

      Nothing xenophobic about telling the truth. And it’s childish to call someone names because you disagree with them. Pulling out the ‘x’ word or the ‘r’ word won’t win you the argument any more. American workers are at the breakpoint of survival and we don’t care about the delicate feelings of the traitors in our midst like Homer. Compare the US position as world leader in technology, engineering, and innovation a) before the tsunami of H-1bs, and b) after, i.e. now. Case closed.

      • Mithun says:

        Bart , I can understand how you feel. Its like someone is coming and taking away what you have. But just to remind you that most of the inventions made by America were actually people who came from other countries.

        The main reason for US became a world power was allowing talent from other country to come in.

      • RK says:

        Are you an American for generation, i mean your great grand fathers born in US? TO my knowledge America is a country with diversity where more than 80% of population migrated to US at some point in past and obtained citizenship’s. I think everyone should be kicked out of US except Native Americans. How about that??

      • Ravi says:

        Wow, Globalization or open market theory works as long as it benefits your job and economy. Outsourcing works as long as you get stuff cheap. And surely you wouldn’t remember the time when developing countries like India were ruled and robbed. Instead of complaining about depressing wages, you should compete with the work force on the otherside of the world.

      • nimesh says:

        You’ve got it all wrong. Your arguments are jingoistic rather than logical. Like financial markets, labor markets need to be deep, liquid and portable. H1B’s do that for America and that’s why they’re hired. So shut the pie hole.

  5. Roger Khandare says:

    This sect of immigrants dont have a voice as they sail in a boat which is steered by the Federal Government who thinks they create jobs. Its the free enterprise that propels the economy and creates new industries/jobs. Preventing the new breed of highly skilled professionals is only going to hurt this country. With 150,000 entrepreneurs leaving the shores of this country, things are only going to get better for competitors such as the Indias and Chinas of the world. 1982’s Immigration and Naturalization act was created with this 7% per country cap preventing Indians and Chinese to file their 485 applications leading to such a backlog (aka retrogression by the Pundits of Immigration). This law doesn’t suit the global playing field now and requires drastic reform. With another year or so of this, EB2 India applicants would get fed up and move to other nations including India and create shops which is bad news for this country. States can keep the 11.4 million illegals here and keep on “talking” about illegal immigration and ignore the very obvious issue of EB2-India and EB2-China while the rest of the world gains from this loss.

  6. John Woo says:

    When compared to millions of illegal immigrants who get the best without paying a penny of tax, Indian/Chinese non-immigrant will be much better a bet for permanent residency. Once Green Card is issued, these Asian immigrants are going to invest in USA than saving or sending back to their home countries. Asian community in USA is one of the most successful immigrant bunches. Permanent Residency for eligible candidates who have been living in this country for 5-6 years and paying proper taxes must be immediately issued GC without 7% country-based quota.

  7. Suavestag says:

    Hey Bart
    Where did your Grand Parents Came from ?
    People like you who are pessimistic and whinning want all the wordly pleasures without hard work,go out work hard ,try to prove yourself replacing any position some non immigrant is holding and then come to this forum proclaiming that I was successfully able to oust the non immigrant from his post since I am technically more sound and hard working . I bet ………
    Gather some positive energy around you.

  8. Imran says:

    Guys, Do you all know why many people today lost their job and having difficult time finding new jobs in USA? Do you really think this is because of H1b or non immigrants? H1b’s and Non immigrants are contributing to the US economy since decades.
    It is because of the recession people lost their jobs..and what is the main reason for recession?? is it H1b’s or Non immigrants??
    Please do not fight on these silly things and focus on many other things which US govt should think and work to improve the economy and growth.. Thanks

  9. Sunny says:

    US/politicians need to work towards designing a system which is able to figure out what the economy needs and/or the immigrants who create jobs and innovation in this country, rather than creating country based quota or granting amnesty to illegals.
    My personal story is- I came to the US 7 years back and had two successful venture in silicon valley and two more in the pipeline. I hold an H1B waiting for Green card for three years. When I was working two jobs (one for a company where paycheck came from and other for my ventures), immigration was a bigger challenge than making ventures work.

  10. Karan says:

    When H1bs are told to go back it is similar to ignoring the real problem. A H1b can take an American job in America and Pay taxes and contribute to economy here or can go back to his/her home country, still take an American job and contribute to home country’s economy. It is one of the functions of a good growing Organization to hire right talent at best price and it doesn’t matter if it is India, China or any other country. I don’t need to list the fortune 500 companies who have already have multiple offices in India and are continuously hiring. Job market / Economy in these countries are still expanding because of this move. I can only name it as fair competition.

    Saying that above comments are not out of logical reasoning. I think Bart is right at some point that all H1bs should go back and be a part of growing economy and you know what is going to happen all top fortune companies will give you guys nice jobs in your home country itself. To throw some data I know at-least 6 of my friends who graduated from Ivy-league schools moved back or are willing to move back to India because of never ending Visa issues.

  11. Doc says:

    Hey everyone,
    I am apeaking from a different perspective, being a doctor , who was trained in India and then in the US. Its a small number of us compared to IT, and only few on H1B during the training which sometimes last 6 yrs.From my experience, people who say “go home” , donot understand the gravity of the situation. US trains immigrant doctors , coz they dont have enough work force here or should I say they donot produce enough doctors ,reason being?????……and saying otherwise is actually rather counterproducative. I also believe that same is the situation with IT. Not enough skilled labor. And that is the bottom line, weather someone agrees or not….tat will remain the truth.