US visa changes costs immigrants millions

American Visa (XL)A sudden change in policy by the State Department has seen tens of thousands of skilled immigrants suddenly left unable to submit the applications for legal permanent residency that they had been preparing. This is despite many having already paid expensive medical and legal fees, a new lawsuit alleges.

The immigrants affected are largely from China and India, many of whom work for top technology firms or medical companies and have advanced degrees. These immigrants claim that they have spent thousands of dollars each – the total possibly being in the tens of millions, according to lawyers – and that the US government has also caused them emotional damage by forcing them to take time off work, miss funerals and weddings, and cancel trips ‒ all ultimately for nothing.

On September 9th a bulletin was issued by the State Department detailing the categories of persons who could file their final paperwork to get a green card on Thursday in response to President Obama’s November 2014 executive order to simplify and improve the country’s immigration system.

Many of the workers currently in the United States on petitions for employment US visas were initially thrilled, expecting the massive backlog of applications from India and China to finally start being cleared, and many began pay lawyers, obtaining medical exams and preparing their applications; however, on September 25th the State Department revised its notice, greatly curtailing which applicants would be eligible while giving no indication about those suddenly left out and giving no explanation for the change.