While a fierce battle is raging over immigration reform for unskilled and undocumented workers, we the high-skilled, legal immigrants are struggling for employment-based permanent residency. The wait, intended by Congress to be one year or less, can now be up to 10 years in certain categories.
I am a high-skilled, educated, legal, tax-paying resident of Stillwater, having dual master's degrees from Oklahoma State University. My wife obtained a Ph.D. from OSU and works there as a post-doctoral research scientist. After filing a plethora of immigration forms, paying exorbitant fees and waiting almost 5 years, our permanent residency application process is still in a state of limbo with no end in sight. In the absence of permanent residency and the associated uncertainty, we have missed several opportunities of economic investment and scientific research.
People presume that since we are highly qualified and legal residents, it would be a matter of one to two years to obtain permanent residency. On the contrary, I, my wife and thousands of highly skilled, highly educated legal immigrant members of Immigration Voice ( www.immigrationvoice.org
) are stuck in a bureaucratic mess that has shattered our American dreams, stagnated our careers and prevented us from realizing our true potential.
The U.S. employment-based green card process is in need of a major overhaul. Hundreds of thousands of applicants have been stuck in the three-stage green card process — some since 1999. These highly skilled workers take up jobs for which qualified American citizens cannot be found. Though it's hard to imagine that a qualified American worker cannot be found for some high skilled jobs, there are several explanations for this disconnect.