A lot has been written about the green card limbo affecting the future of Indian families in the United States. Several bills including the HR 3648 EAGLE Act 2021, the RELIEF Act, and the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act have been brought onto the table seeking elimination of the country-wise cap on the number of employment-based green cards issued to Indian H1B professionals.
Another Indian family fell apart over the green card logjam while waiting for legal permanent residency in the US. 48-year-old Anthuvan Kuzhandaisamy, a high-skilled Indian engineer on H1B, died of a heart attack early this month. His untimely demise has left his wife and two children vulnerable to deportation from the US as they have been rendered out of the H4 dependent status. After bidding a final goodbye to Anthuvan Kuzhandaisamy, they are looking towards uncertainties lying ahead.
Anthuvan, a techie from Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu, was a SAP engineer on contract for Apple through DGN Technologies. He had built a happy nest in California while working for more than 12 years in the land of ‘American Dreams’. In a bid to concretize the nest in the country that he, along with his wife, had started calling their second home, he had filed a green card petition 8 years ago. But the wait time for a green card running into decades for Indian immigrants is taking toll on families like Anthuvan’s.
He was not just a high-skilled professional but also a kind-hearted soul. He helmed the IdhayaOli Foundation, a charitable nonprofit in San Francisco and Tamil Nadu, to help the needy and feed the hungry. He raised thousands of dollars to help the families of laborers who were left stranded and starved after India slipped into lockdown over the pandemic last year. Ironically, his own family is helpless and devastated today.
Anthuvan’s family cannot continue their stay on H4 visa in the US, according to the immigration system that Republic Zoe Lofgren described as ‘severely broken’ while introducing the EAGLE Act 2021 in June. It won’t be easy for them to restart their lives from a scratch in India either. His 19-year-old daughter, a sophomore at Arizona State University, can continue to stay in the US if she applies for the change of status from H4 to F1. To have an F-1 visa means paying exorbitant tuition fees, even if she has called the US her home since her childhood.
The sorry fate of tax-paying resident aliens, including Indian H1B workers stuck in the never-ending green card limbo, has caused outrage in the wake of Anthuvan’s sudden demise. On top of that, a PTI report about more than one lakh employment-based green cards on the verge of being wasted by September 30, 2021 has agitated the community of Indian immigrants. If the green card petitions continue to be processed at the current pace by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, over 100,000 green cards will end up being wasted.
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