EB-1 backlog to H-1B challenges: Expert’s tips on U.S. immigration

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Debarghya Das, widely known as Deedy on social media, is not only a prominent figure in the tech world but also a notable example of the intricate and evolving immigration journey for non-U.S. citizens looking to build their lives and careers in the United States. In a candid interview with Hindustan Times, Deedy shared his personal immigration experiences, challenges, and insights into the ever-changing landscape of U.S. immigration.

40% decrease in H-1B Labor Condition Application (LCA) filings in Q3 FY 2023(Reters File Photo)

Born in India, Debarghya’s U.S. journey began during his childhood when he spent seven years in the United States. However, he returned to India and his official immigration journey recommenced in 2011 as an F-1 student. In 2015, he secured a spot in the H-1B lottery and then applied for a EB-2 green card. ‘EB-1s are now the most backlogged it’s ever been (they are processing 2017 applications) and my priority date, ported from the EB-2, is 2018. Right now, I’m in the process of filing for a green card and will be granted work (EAD) and travel documents (AP) to no longer be reliant on an H-1B.’ Deedy mentions.

He expects to hold a US passport by 2029.

After his year long-experience and research Deedy religiously offers valuable advice to those considering U.S. citizenship. ‘The immigration journey is a long and hard one, especially today, and you should be extremely committed to the US if you truly want to go through with it,’ he stresses.

Barriers in US Immigration Process

He also highlights various barriers and strategies for those seeking citizenship, including focusing on programs offering STEM OPT extensions, “H-1B lottery rates are at an all time low, I’d suggest most people look into how they can apply for an O-1A and talk to a lawyer. If neither of these options work, “Day 1 CPT” is a last resort.”

Tips to acquire US Citizenship

After securing a visa that allows one to stay in America for 3-6yrs (H-1 / O-1 usually), ideally the employer applies for an EB-2 or EB-3. It locks in a priority date quickly and allows you to renew H-1B indefinitely. After this is done, he recommends;

“1. Marry a US citizen

2. Check qualification for an EB-1A —

3. Ask your employer to move you out of the US in a managerial role for one year and come back on an EB-1C

4. Save up $900k or $1.8M to invest as a part of the EB-5 program”

EB-1 green card backlog

There is a surging backlog in EB-1 green card applications from India, mainly due to an influx of applicants, including those using older priority dates from EB-2 or EB-3 applications. This has led to a retrogression of 6.5 years in the processing of EB-1 green cards, affecting individuals across various subcategories, including outstanding researchers and those with extraordinary abilities.

“It just means anyone applying for an EB-1, which used to be the first preference green card which was almost always “current” in terms of processing, will have to wait a long long time (could be up to 8-10yrs) to get their green card,” Deedy explains.

Reason & imapct of decline in LCA filing

Shifting the conversation to the H-1B visa program, he acknowledges a 40% decrease in H-1B Labor Condition Application (LCA) filings in Q3 FY 2023 can be linked to reduced hiring following tech industry layoffs. He noted that the long-term impact of these changes remains uncertain, especially in light of economic challenges.

“H-1B hiring will likely continue and be India-heavy. In the long run, the pressure on US citizenship will continue. I expect it to be slightly reduced as more and more people go to Canada.

“More and more Indians will shift their green card to EB-1 and eventually the priority dates for all categories will regress making it take 10-15+ years from start to finish on most green card applications.”

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