Tech Workers Face Green Card Challenges

Green cards are hard to come by, and those working in the tech industry are concerned that their time here in the U.S. might be running out.

Tech Trouble

Companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple have been tenaciously recruiting international workers for decades. With billions of dollars and state-of-the-art technology at their disposal, these companies can give coders, engineers, and designers a one-of-a-kind work experience that’s priceless.

For the companies, a vast workforce of talented individuals with diverse experience is almost if not more valuable than the product they produce. Since the tech boom in the 1990s, these companies have been mining for talent from around the world to enhance their product and protect their intellectual property.

Now, this symbiotic relationship is at risk thanks to a 100,000 application backlog of green card applications that may not be approved for this year.

Innovation Under Fire

Because of the pandemic, double the amount of green cards were available this year as many would-be applicants remained under a lockdown or chose to stay in their home country for safety reasons. While more green cards are a good thing, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' ability to process them is limited.

Pandemic restrictions and limited staffing have left the USCIS in a difficult position. There are more applicants and businesses willing to sponsor immigration, but fewer agents to process and approve these applications on time.

The deadline for approval this year is September 30, and it seems unlikely that the USCIS will be able to approve applications if it is still working through hundreds of thousands of documents in the backlog.

Company Response

The big three, Google, Apple, and Microsoft are pushing for approval as we near the deadline. Google says that only 13% of all applications have been approved which leaves hundreds of fo workers in the lurch. Apple CEO Tim Cook has written to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary to urge officials to fast-track approval.

Cook points out that requiring in-person interviews takes time – time these candidates don’t have. By eliminating in-person communication, Cook says that the USCIS can communicate virtually which would help alleviate some of the pressure and speed up the process.

The big three and other tech companies are concerned about the impact on their bottom line but also the overall impact on the economy as it limps toward equilibrium.

The Big Picture

It’s not just major tech companies that are concerned. Many applicants filed on behalf of family members so they can live together in the U.S. If these green cards aren’t assigned this year, there’s no way to tell how next year will work out. Extra green cards leftover don’t transfer to the next fiscal year which means the stakes stay high for green card applicants.

There’s also a risk that an already struggling economy could be impacted. Workers are the axis on which everything in our economy revolves. There is no supply to meet demand, not fresh intellectual property on the marketplace of ideas without workers – especially foreign workers.

Having their families close is an important need for many workers already living in the U.S. and there aren’t many incentives that compare to being together with loved ones.

If you are waiting for approval or starting the application process, contact Sintsirmas & Mueller Co. L.P.A.