Two representatives from California have criticized a recent decision by the State Department to change an immigration policy. The sudden and unexplained policy revision left an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 immigrants unable to apply for green cards as they had expected. According to U.S. Reps. Mike Honda and Zoe Lofgren, the revision has undermined predictability and stability in the immigration system.
A majority of the immigrants who were affected by the policy change are originally from China and India. Many of these immigrants work in the medical and tech fields and hold advanced degrees. On Sept. 9, a bulletin issued by the State Department stated that the affected immigrants would be able to apply for permanent residency on Oct. 1. Then on Sept. 25, a revised bulletin was issued that informed the immigrants they would not be able to apply but gave no information about when they could apply in the future.
According to a lawsuit that has been filed by a group of the affected immigrants, the sudden about-face by the State Department cost them thousands of dollars each. While preparing to file their green card applications, the immigrants hired legal representation, obtained medical exams and canceled travel plans. One couple from India spent $600 to obtain their birth certificates, and a 33-year-old software engineer missed three days of work and spent $2,600 to prepare his application.
Employment immigration attorneys can often be of assistance to foreign workers who are seeking to come to the United States. Because immigration policies can change rapidly, an attorney may be able to keep an immigrant up-to-date on what policies affect their situation.