Policy change hurts immigrants

Daily Editorial Board

Immigrants waiting to file employment-based green card applications received a nasty surprise recently when they learned that the United States federal government has revised the application timeline. Under the new change, an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 immigrants will need to wait as long as five more years before beginning their applications. 
 
In order to address a growing waitlist for employment-based green cards, President Barack Obama announced last year that the government would allow immigrants to file their applications sooner, helping alleviate the burden of a waitlist process that prevents immigrants from changing jobs before they receive their green cards. 
 
Currently, immigrants seeking to establish permanent residency in the U.S. face substantial waitlists, especially if they come from countries such as China, India or Mexico.
 
The U.S. imposes an annual quota of 140,000 employment-based green cards, and some applicants must wait ten years or more. 
 
Mark Schneider, the University of Minnesota’s associate director of employment-based visas, told the Star Tribune that changes to the application timeline impact at least five tenure-track faculty members at the University. While they wait for their green cards, they remain ineligible for federal research grants. 
 
The University is a diverse campus, and Minneapolis is a diverse city. Skilled immigrants are a valuable asset to the U.S. economy, and they cannot make the most of their
lives here while hemmed in by waitlist restrictions. We sympathize with those affected by the recent changes, and we encourage Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., to speak out against the decision.