A woman holds a replica green card sign during a protest march (Reuters)
Immigration experts aren't too excited about the proposal of the Trump administration to offer green cards based on merit and skills. They pointed out that the move will benefit the Indian population in the US, but there is a long way to go before the proposal becomes law.
US President Donald Trump on May 17, proposed skill and merit-based 'Build America Visa', to replace the existing green card that prioritises family ties.
The idea behind the new immigration policy is to increase the number of skilled workers quota from 12 percent to 57 percent, Trump said. However, the cap of 1.1 million green cards per year will not be increased.
The skilled labour shortage in the US is real and according to immigration experts, this is likely to benefit Indian IT professionals, who are the biggest beneficiaries of the skilled immigrant visa, H-1B. ''That is if this proposal ever sees the light of day,'' quipped Vivek Tandon, Founder, EB-5 BRICS, an immigration advisory firm.
''This is just a preliminary. A move to attract attention for elections next year and appeal to his voter-base,'' Tandon pointed out. According to him even if the bill gets introduced, it is not likely to take shape and with elections approaching it will be on the back burner.
Tandon explained that it is quite a big change and it will take a long time to bring to shape.
Mark I Davies, Global Managing Partner and Founder, Davies & Associates, an immigration advisory firm, agreed. Quoting reports on the proposed policy, Davies said Trump’s proposal has no basis in reality and has no chance of becoming law.
Tandon and Davies echo sentiments of prominent politicians in the US such as Kamala Harris, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, who have dubbed it a political document and short-sighted.
Whether the proposed policy sees the light of the day or not, it has evoked mixed response on how beneficial it will be to the Indian diaspora there.
Sangeeta Gupta, Senior VP and Chief Strategy Officer, NASSCOM, industry body for IT, said it will be good for skilled Indian workforce. However, not many are convinced.
Davies added, ''This is just an extension of what we are already seeing with regards to H-1B. There have been heavy crackdown of H-1B programme under Trump administration and has affected the IT industry.''
According to him, this might impact the proposed green card that could be availed by Indian techies given that Trump clearly favours investment. ''This means that people who are going the EB-5 route might favour the proposed visa,'' Davies added.
Pankaj Joshi, Managing Director, Nysa Global, EB-5 immigration advisory firm, while agreeing that it will not make a huge impact for Indians, disagreed that EB-5 will slow down.
''Just because more Indians will quality under the visa it does not mean that everyone will get it. The cap for each country continues to be 7 percent. This means that only that many Indians will qualify for a visa each year and the backlog will continue,'' he added.
''EB-5 will continue to be a faster option for those who are looking for a green card,'' Joshi said.